The Pastor’s Thoughts — Feb. 12, 2023, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 6, 2023 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“So it was said to your ancestors; but I say to you.”

Have you ever driven through a neighborhood, admiring the beautiful houses on the streets? They may have what is called “great curb appeal.” But what we do not know just driving by, is how these houses look on the inside, where the homeowners live. The scribes and Pharisees presented a certain kind of goodness, even holiness, to others. However, they governed their thoughts and actions only by their external observance of the Jewish laws and how they appeared in the eyes of others.

The love of God and the love of others that flows from our love of God never filled their inner selves, so that pure love for God and for others never filled their hearts where they really lived. An example was the Pharisees’ view of women. They did not commit physical adultery, but they allowed themselves to regard women merely as objects for the pleasure of men. That attitude adulterates genuine love and demeans women. That lack of love in their hearts is why Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Think about how we can, at times, have less than loving feelings about our friends, our brothers, and sisters, even about our spouses. These types of less than loving feelings recall more sayings, “never hold a grudge,” or “never go to bed mad at your spouse.” These sayings apply to what Jesus is telling His disciples, “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.”

We have also heard the saying, “kiss and make up.” Our parents have said it to us when we were not getting along with a sister, a brother, or a friend. Jesus is telling us to always do this when He said, “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.”

Finally, Jesus says, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” Do not deceive others by feelings that betray the apparent good of our actions. God is more interested in what He finds in our hearts than just what He sees in our actions. God wants to find unconditional love for Him and for each other deep in our hearts, where we really live. That unconditional love will then be sincerely shown in our actions. These actions will be pleasing gifts to place “at the altar.”

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