In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching about God’s insistence on reconciliation, the restoring of right relationship. The way that right relationship exists between God and God’s people is when right relationship exists among the people themselves, from the closest relationships to the most distant. I have heard from several people and read of many who during this time of physical social distancing have reached out by phone or message or letter to old friends with whom they have lost touch or fallen out of relationship. Is there some relationship in your life that needs reconciliation? Now is the time, and Jesus says the responsibility is ours. The painting today is based on Psalm 85, which is about reconciliation and restoration. Here are some words from that psalm:
I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,
For he is speaking peace to his faithful people
And to those who turn their hearts to him.
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
That his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring up from the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
The Holy Gospel Matthew 5:21-26
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
John August Swanson (1984)