***July 3 - Thursday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time
Mt 5: 20-26
The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees consisted mainly in being right with the external letter of the law. This left the interior of the heart unaffected. Such a way of living did not bring about the transformation of one’s heart. The core of one’s being was still indisposed for God. For example, the fact that one did not steal may well have left one’s heart still coveting another’s possessions.
In order to enter into Jesus’ spiritual kingdom one’s heart must be cleansed and free from all disordered desire. This calls for detachment from all sinful desires. Such passions displace the spiritual yearnings we ought to have for God whom we must love with all our hearts. By renouncing these desires that are contrary those belonging to genuine children of God, we have clean hearts ready to receive the Spirit who communicates the divine presence and the Kingdom of God to us.
The Fifth Commandment forbids us to kill a fellow man and goes no further. Jesus commands that our hearts be free from murderous anger. The desire to kill another is already a serious sin, even if it does not end in taking another’s life. Such an angry disposition will be severely judged.
Disrespecting others with abusive words is likewise condemnable. Calling another a fool, with hate in one’s heart, calls for divine punishment. Gehenna is a valley in southwest Jerusalem which served as a dumping ground. It burned continuously and became a symbol of the fires of hell.
It is extremely important that we remain at peace with each other. Love must be our dominant attitude. We must seek to be reconciled with anyone who may have something against us. We need to be reconciled in order to be properly disposed to offer our gifts to God.
It is important that we settle matters with them while on the way to judgment. Otherwise, if we stand before the Judge still un-reconciled, we will be punished with imprisonment. And, we will not be released until we are thoroughly purified. Is this not an allusion to purgatory? This passage says the person’s punishment will end, but punishment in hell has no end.