[“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] (Mt. 5:21-22a)
In the course of His teaching and preaching, Jesus often criticizes the current religious practices of the Jewish religious leaders. His comments in today’s Gospel reading are no different. Jesus advocates for the removal of sin by its roots and not merely treating its symptoms. He brings to the attention of His listeners a cause of murder, namely anger. So in order to be righteous one must not merely avoid murder, but also one must control their anger. Jesus wants conversion of hearts, and not just conversion of legalistic action.
When visiting his attempted assassin in prison, Pope St. John Paul II remarked, “The difference between you and me is that you got caught.” Of course St. John Paul II did not try to kill anyone, but he recognized that all of us, if we do not moderate our anger, have the capacity to attempt something seriously sinful.
To claim, “I haven’t killed anyone, so I’m a pretty good person”, is not acceptable for a Christian. Jesus wants our hearts to be transformed by His grace, and through that inner transformation our actions.
What areas of your heart is God challenging you to change?