10th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Kngs 18:41-46
Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees. “Climb up and look out to sea,” he directed his servant, who went up and looked, but reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times he said, “Go, look again!” And the seventh time the youth reported, “There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Elijah said, “Go and say to Ahab, ‘Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.’” In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.
Gospel: Mt 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, you shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise, your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
YOUR RIGHEOUSNESS SHOULD SURPASS: Being righteous before God was a Jewish ideal (Is 42:6; Prov 8:20). There are also numerous references that acknowledge God as the righteous one (Ps 7:11; Dan 9:7). Thirdly, it was believed that it is God who makes human beings righteous (Is 53:11). During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees and the scribes believed and advocated that righteousness is achievable by human effort by means of the strict observance of the law. Jesus challenges that position. For Jesus, one has to go beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. And righteousness is an outcome of one’s relationship with God. Human beings have to just surrender themselves to the covenantal proposal of God. What do we understand by righteousness in our own lives and setting?
Prayer: Lord, you are the righteous one. I can only be righteous by following you more closely.
USE OF TIME AND ENERGY: The apostle Paul speaks of the indispensability of love if we have to gain any credibility for our actions. Any act without love is nothing in the eyes of God (1Cor. 13:1ff). In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks scribes and Pharisees. Followers of Jesus are to be different in practicing reconciliation and forgiveness, because they reflect God’s ways. Sin has its origin in the heart. Our sacrifices have meaning only when presented with forgiven hearts and without resentments. Our righteousness has to exceed that of scribes and Pharisees in all our dealings and relationships.