The district nurse came today to change the dressing on my hickman line site. It looks the same as it did on the previous visit. Now that I’m off antibiotics she said to watch for any spikes in temperature and seek medical help if detected.
Today’s gospel is Matt 5:20-26. Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. ‘You have learnt
how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.
This year is significant because it marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Irish Uprising. How will we view this event in our national history – from the perspective of Jesus’ Lordship or from some other perspective? Today’s gospel passage and by coincidence the Office of Readings (below) make abundantly clear that Jesus’ teaching on non-violence are as definitive as his teachings against adultery, fornication, etc. Nowhere in the New Testament or in Apostolic Christianity do we find any permission to excuse ourselves from this core teaching of Jesus.
The Office of Readings excerpt below comes from St Aelred’s Mirror of Love and is entitled ‘Christ, the model of fraternal love.’
The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.
In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.
Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?