“‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”
Sometimes it’s not nice to think about the bad things we do. Sat here listening to some great folk music and enjoying a glass of wine I feel pretty good thanks, and not really in the mood to contemplate on the fact that I, like everyone else, can also be a shit some of the time.
It can be difficult not to feel bad about yourself after reading the gospel passage appointed for this Sunday. Ever been angry with someone? That’s on a par with murder… Called someone a fool? To hell… Looked at someone of the opposite sex improperly? As bad as committing adultery… Tried cutting off your hand or mutilating your face to sort out that problem?
Bloody. Difficult. Stuff. To. Read.
The saving grace for me comes from last week’s passage – verse 19 “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven”
Although we may be the least of all there, there is room for people who do bad things – who sin, who break God’s commandments – in the presence of God in his kingdom. And perhaps by some undeserved generosity while we’re there something of God’s goodness and capacity to love might rub off on us.
That should be enough for us. May that be enough for me.