“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5: 21-24)
This is not my Church’s reading for today, when we are celebrating Palm Sunday, the day on which our Lord enters Jerusalem, where He is soon to be killed on a cross. Nonetheless, I am thinking about this above-quoted passage, in relation to the “killing” that is about to happen, of our Lord, under Pontius Pilate, – because in the above-quoted passage the Lord lets us know that most of us, perhaps all of us, share responsibility in the whole business of human-on-human “killing.” We may not be the suicide-bomber, or the serial-killer, who shocks us with his duct-tape and ropes and strangling, about which we read in the news or in crime-documentaries; We may not be the Roman soldiers, who strip and mock and beat and crucify Jesus Christ, as we read in the Scriptures, – but we are “liable” as they are, whenever we are “angry” and “insult” our own selves or one another, for example, in our (often anonymous) comments on social media. Our words, or our “thumbs down” to ourselves or one another, intended to be discouraging, are often death-bringing and hence murderous.
So as I enter Holy Week, and follow the footsteps of the Lord to His cross, let me not think of myself as apart from, or innocent of, the mocking and anger and murderousness of the crowds that mindlessly shout, “Crucify Him!” I am part of this tragedy, of our common penchant for misplaced anger, against ourselves and one another, and occasionally also against God Himself. Today I re-embrace peace, with myself and other human beings and God, and place anger where anger belongs, directed against the evil in this world: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6: 12) Lord, thank You for forgiving us, as You head toward the Cross, and help us to forgive ourselves, for leading You there. Amen!