YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID

Opening Prayer:

Eternal God, you know every action we take, every word on our lips, every thought in our hearts.  Our lives are entirely open to you.  Remind us of the power of our actions, words, and thoughts, and of the responsibility we bear before you.  Remind us, too, of your unrelenting grace and mercy and compassion, that we might entirely re-orient out lives to act and speak and think as you do; we love because you first loved us.  We pray this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

THE TEXT

Matthew 5:21-26

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, `Do not murder.  If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!  If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar.  Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.  Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail.  I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

NLT

COMMENT

“Go and be reconciled.”  The severance of human relationships is no trivial matter; we are meant to live together, to love together, to exist entirely in social relationships.  Friendship is not an option; it is a necessity, if we are to be truly human.  And so to allow ourselves the luxury of selfish anger hurts not only the other person, but also ourselves.  The love of self leads to isolation, and isolation is self-annihilation; self-preservation, ironically, is inherently self-destructive.  We cannot afford to throw away relationships.

READING

Friendship bears fruit both in this present life and the future life.  In itself it reveals all virtues; by its virtues it confounds vices.  It tempers adversity and moderates prosperity.  Indeed, without friendship there is hardly any happiness among mortals.  And a human being might as well be a beast, if he or she has no one to rejoice with during sorrows, or unload the burdened mind upon, or share sudden inspirations with.  “Woe to the lonely one who, when falling, has no one to lift him or her up!”  The one without a friend is entirely alone.

—Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)

Spiritual Friendship 2.9-11

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