Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
“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. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled
with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Mt 5:20-26
What does it mean to be righteous? Righteousness quite simply is defined as acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin (Miriam- Webster dictionary).
Jesus tells us not only are we to be righteous – but, our righteousness must surpass that of the Scribes & Pharisees. As Jesus goes on to describe righteousness He ties it very tightly to forgiveness. Catherine Doherty tells the following story about our call to forgive & thus be free from guilt or sin, so that we can truly open our hearts to Christ & be one with our God and our brothers and sisters:
- This Holy Week seek forgiveness from those you have hurt, & open your heart to forgive those who have hurt you.
I remember when I was a little girl in Russia during Holy Week every member of my family – father, mother, and all the servants lined up and, beginning with father, bowed low before one another and said to each, “Forgive me for any hurt that I might have inflicted on you.” And the answer from the other was, “May the Lord forgive you as I forgive you. Amen.” So everyone asked forgiveness from one another, because without forgiveness, which is the greatest sign of love, how can one receive the God of love?
We hurt people, unwillingly and even unwittingly, by the weakness of our nature, so we need forgiveness from our brothers and sisters, and we need to forgive them as well. We cannot enter Holy Week unless we forgive totally, uncompromisingly, and completely.
For before our eyes will soon be Jesus Christ himself, who will cry out from the height of the cross, “Father, forgive them.” Since we are baptized into the death and life of Jesus Christ, we should not allow the night to fall on our anger. We should beg forgiveness and forgive every day. Let us pray that we may forgive, because no one forgives these days, nationally and internationally speaking, and perhaps also personally. That is why we have the mess that we have.
Yes, Righteousness is a not only a good thing &- it is also a Christ thing, therefore it is important for us to pray: Heavenly Father, I come to You as Your child. Please send Your Holy Spirit into my heart to give me the grace to follow the example of Christ’s righteousness. May I be generous in forgiving others & in seeking forgiveness. United with Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.