Here is a link to our Gospel reading for today from Matthew:
Sometimes I feel angry with other people, though I don’t think I have ever contemplated killing another person. I have never committed adultery, but I can’t say that I have never felt an attraction to someone who was not really available to me. I am not divorced, but I have great empathy for many people who are divorced, and understand how a couple might arrive at a place where they feel they need to end their marriage. I try to be as honest as I can, but if I am truly honest I have to confess that on occasion in my life I have lied. So what then does this passage mean for me, a far from perfect human being, and perhaps for you, who also may be far from perfect?
It is easy when we stay at the level of the law to avoid looking at parts of ourselves that make us less comfortable. When we stay at the level of the law we can say to ourselves: “I didn’t murder anyone today. I didn’t commit adultery. I didn’t tell a lie. Check, check, check. I am a good person.” But what if we sought to know, get comfortable with and have compassion for those parts of ourselves that we often try to hide? What if we were to befriend our anger, try to understand it, and hear what it has to say to us? Might it lose some of its power? Might we become less angry? What about that lust we feel for someone who is not available to us? What does that lust want us to know? Or that part of us that felt the need to lie? What does it need from us? When we pretend that these inner uncomfortable parts of us don’t exist in an effort to convince ourselves that we are good people, we give these parts more power. These parts begin to run our lives in ways that lead us to behaviors that might cause us and others harm.