Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional – Tenth Week in Ordinary Time – Thursday – Matthew 5:20-26
Continuing with the Sermon on the Mount, having absolutely affirmed the 10 Commandments, Jesus now raises the bar even higher. Jesus asserts that men who are allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must possess a righteousness that surpasses the Pharisees'(Matt 5:17-19) ; this is a huge hurdle for, despite being misguided in some ways, the Pharisees loved God deeply and sought to live with deep daily piety.
With the astounding assertion He has the authority to modify the 1200 year old Law given by Moses, Jesus expands the 5th Commandment (Thou shall not kill) to include even inner feelings of anger in the definition of “kill.” In the Old Testament, laws were laid down to hold society together; in the New Covenant, Jesus is perfecting the Law to draw men to inner holiness.
Christ affirms that men are judged and the reality of Hell with a reference to Gehenna, a squalid perpetually burning trash dump near Jerusalem where child sacrifice was practiced in earlier days. He likens Judgment to the harsh treatment of prison guards and judges and being cast violently into prison.
To avoid being condemned to Hell for the sin of anger, Jesus urges men to reconcile with an aggrieved brother and to go to the altar to reconcile with God, a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Despite His humble roots as the son of a carpenter, Jesus, as the Son of God, reaffirms the 10 Commandments and then asserts His incredible authority to modify the Law of Moses. Divine King, Jesus calls His disciples to a new perfection of inner holiness. With the Perfect Wisdom of the Divine Prophet, Jesus affirms the reality of Hell and as Divine Judge, reveals a bit of how men are judged. Divine Priest, Christ prefigures the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) As the Son of God, Jesus is greater than every man, even a man as great as Moses. With God from the beginning, Christ is the architect of Salvation History and He enters history to perfect that law He gave to Moses. Reflect on the astounding way that Christ is shaping His Creation over a period of thousands of years.
2) The modern culture and even some in the Church, deny sin or downplay its importance, leading men to become lax in the Spiritual Combat and leaving men vulnerable to Hell. Reinforce your own vigilance against Sin by reflecting on Christ’s vehement insistence for men to be relentless in battling inner Sin and His stark warnings about Judgment and Hell.
3) Using the ultra-pious Pharisees as a starting point, Christ raises the standard of righteousness to which He calls men, pushing men to repent from the vice of unrighteous anger. Reflect on your own thoughts and emotions of anger, resentment and unspoken condemnation or hatred of others. Go to Confession as soon as possible.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist
Virtue of the Day – Fortitude