Listen to the reading.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I thought it but...
I didn’t really want him dead…
The thought, “I just want to kill that guy” was really my way of saying to the teenaged boy who cut me off and flipped me the bird, “I just want you to stop breathing for a few seconds, maybe flop around and turn blue for few seconds until you see what a jerk you are! Then you can breathe all you want.” That’s a glimpse at what anger does to me, especially in my car.
I want people who make my life path rocky to just step away…leave my line of sight. And if I have to speak to them in harsh tones or use creative gestures, well, sometimes I do. To my great shame.
In order to push my way through life I have been and occasionally am guilty of deconstructing others. Or as Jesus says to me, “David, what you do is kill them and risk the fires of hell.”
But it goes both ways...
Once at a gas station I wanted to make room for a pregnant woman who needed to fill her tank although I had gotten to the pump first. I rolled down the window and said that I would move my car and waved while doing it. My best guess is that the noise from our engines somehow blocked out the fact that I was being friendly and that my gestures were positive ones and she (a 5 foot tall women weighing in at about 100lbs., lit into me with a litany of profanity the likes of which would make a construction worker blush. I was deconstructed. I was dazed. I wanted to stop and say… “Hey, I’m your buddy, I’m your pal, I was doing you a favor…I’m a good guy.” However, it occurred to me that a large, now red-faced, man exiting his car to engage in dialogue might be misinterpreted as an attack…to I just backed up the car and let her gas up.
I held on to that tangible sadness and anger for almost two days. First I spent time rehearsing a stern yet affirming rebuttal just in case we ever “met” again. Then I began feeling sorry for myself as a knight in shining armor who treated unfairly. Finally, when I went to Jesus with it, I pondered hard on that fact that certainly I had brought people low like that myself… and I was humbled.
I have committed that ‘murder’. I have called my brother and sister ‘raca’. With that in our pasts how can I ever hope to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those people whom I have deconstructed? How can I ever hope to be in any kind of fellowship with them ever? How had I ever been caught up in that even though this lesson from Matthew is written in my head…and sometimes on my heart?
I try not to get sucked into it but conflict and abuse are everywhere. The media I watch regularly make millions off of it. All of the reality programs rely on the innate human quality of self preservation to make for good ratings and dollar producing conflict. All of the news programs now rely on Red vs. Blue battles to rivet people to their sets. That kind of constant bickering and name calling can be addictive because civility is no longer a national virtue. The biggest proof of that being the number of TV ads and new books being published reteaching civility or bemoaning it’s loss…because parents no longer see it as a virtue. Parents see it as being “said of old”. But I don’t blame the media because I have a remote and can turn the television off. I let it into my life…I must learn to close that door.
So how do we respond to Jesus as he challenges us with eternal punishment concerning how we relate to others? Many of us would, have, and will give HIM the finger….call HIM raca! But my hope is that we would instead…dial it all down a bit…to let it bother us that we behave this way instead of dismissing it. Spend time seeking the Lord in these matters… Find away to be held accountable for our behavior… Fall on our knees a few more times than once a week.
Are you tight with God? Good.
Are you comfortable with your circle of friends? Good.
Now what about the rest of your neighbors…how will they meet Jesus by hearing about Him from you if they can’t get past your finger?
Theme song from the "Raca Files".
 I had actually written “death” hear because it sounds nicer…but that’s not what Jesus says…forgive my weakness.
Copywrite: David M. Dubay 5-11-2006