Is anything stifling your faith growth? Or the use of God’s gifts? Or your unconditional love for others?
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7) is a seminar on how to reach our full potential. Near the beginning of the program, which is in our Gospel reading, Jesus gives an example of how to turn a literal interpretation of the law into a faith that’s fully alive.
The message is this: A fully alive Christian takes the harder but more loving approach. Mediocre people take the lazy, comfortable route and don’t accomplish anything of lasting value.
Jesus makes this point by addressing the sin of anger. He describes the increasingly destructive effect it has on the angry person’s soul. At first, anger in the heart results in “judgment,” represented by the Jewish local court where the easiest of punishments were meted out.
Then, Jesus names one of the initial ways that anger kills: To shout “raqa” at someone is to call them a nitwit or imbecile. It destroys their self-esteem. It belittles them. The abuser — yes, name-calling is abuse — must now face a trial before the Sanhedrin, the highest judicial body.Read More »