Learning from Jesus How to Love

I always get uncomfortable when I hear what our Lord says in the Gospel of Matthew:

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, you shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna, (Matthew 5:21-22).

How often I have called someone a “fool” for driving badly or causing me some type of inconvenience? It is just a passing annoyance being voiced, right? We all do it.  Why is it such a big deal it warrants me being liable to the hell of fiery Gehenna?

I recently read the Scriptural commentary on those particular verses and learned that Jesus is teaching about the pitfalls of anger. The New American Catholic Bible states, “Anger is the motive behind murder, as the insulting epithets are steps that may lead to it. They (meaning the insults) as well as the deed are all forbidden. The ascending order of punishment, judgement, trial before the Sanhedrin, condemnation to Gehenna points to a higher degree of seriousness in each of the offenses.”

Modern society, in my opinion, celebrates anger. Angry people going off on others as their rightful due has become entertainment on social media and streaming shows. The Catechism (CCC, no. 2259) tells us anger has been part of human nature from the beginning,

“In the account of Abel’s murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history.”

It is no wonder Jesus’ words bristle for anger is part of who I am.

How am I supposed to overcome it?

When Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew (5:44), to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us, he knows that on our own that is impossible for us to accomplish. We can only learn how to love our fellow man through receiving Jesus into our hearts, our minds, and our souls, and allowing God to work in us what we are not capable of doing ourselves.

As Catholics, we learn how to love God and our fellow man in, with, and through Jesus by way of the Sacraments.

The Catechism states (CCC, no. 1127) states,

“[…] the Sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work.”

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Holy Spirit dwells within us always ready to love, forgive, and be charitable. A quick prayer, “Come Holy Spirit, Come!” is sufficient to invite God to act within us.

When we fail to love, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation where Jesus waits to forgive us, heal us, and bestow on us the grace to be successful in charity going forward.

In the intentional reception of the Holy Eucharist at Holy Mass, Jesus transforms our human nature so in him we can love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

If I continue to allow my natural tendency to anger rule my thoughts and action and fail to call on God to help me love instead, the only fool is me!

Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, as a writer, Missionary of Hope, Prayer Intercessor, Speaker Team member, and Volunteer for Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

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