2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1,3-6
In the gospel today, Jesus offers the first of the six antitheses in which he takes up and interprets anew an old accepted teaching based on the Law of Moses, focusing on its original intent. In the last few weeks of my time here in the USA, I can hardly evade the reality of anger and hurt, not to deny the presence of goodness. This is true not only of society but also of the church, especially churches that have been going through restructuring.
I wonder what the reaction would be if the call to worship opened with Matthew 5:20-26! No doubt, worship would come to a screeching halt. A brief tour of church history reveals that anger, rage and embittered judgements are also well-earned and are far less flattering identity marks for the church. Given how hard it is to live lovingly in any Christian community and how easy it is for misunderstanding within the community that lead to anger and estrangement, should Jesus not have been satisfied that people were coming to the altar at all? Is Jesus not pushing the worship of God beyond any reasonable limit when he insists that the angry worshipper do an about-face and make amends with her or his estranged sister or brother before giving a gift to God?
Praise of God will always ring hollow when coloured by rage against our neighbour.
In a world that continues to build walls of divisive rhetoric, this passage invites us to renew worship, seek reconciliation and restore sanity within and beyond the church.
These compelling Gospel words are about a God who does more –and expects more- than that we merely patch or repair relationships that have been damaged or broken. This God makes all things new, no matter how damaged or broken the relationship, and invites us to do the same.
Giltus Mathias CP, is a Passionists, he lives at St.Brigid Retreat, Marrickville.