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… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5: 21-22, 27-28)

It is, perhaps, understandable that we feel shock and dismay, when we hear about the crimes of certain murderers or sex-offenders; and we might, understandably, scoff and jeer as we see a a school-shooter or, say, a Harvey Weinstien paraded in handcuffs into a courthouse. But in the passages quoted above, our Lord offers us a sobering reminder, as to how we ourselves might share, in “small” ways, in the responsibility for certain forms of violence against one another, even on a daily basis.

I am not saying, of course, that our criminal justice-system should “go easy” on the murderers and violent sex-offenders. I’m only suggesting that my own, internal “justice-system” should take pause, when I hear about these crimes in the news, and take note of my own behavior, so that I might take extra care not to look, or speak, or act unto others in any death-bringing manner.

Today let me take down a notch any self-seeking or self-centeredness in my relationships with others. Let me seek to understand, rather than to be understood; to give, rather than to receive; to affirm and encourage, rather than to control or bend to my way. Let me listen a bit more, and be a bit more grateful for people and things as they are, rather than bemoan what they are not, according to what I would wish them to be. Lord, help us love one another, and ourselves, as You love us, – as we are. Amen!

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