Matthew 5: 21-48
Jesus acts with divine authority to perfect and deepen the moral code of the Mosaic Law. Each antithesis follows a similar format:
- Jesus cites the Old Law “you have heard that it was said. . .
- He then responds with but I say to you. . .
This pattern shows us that Jesus is the New Moses and the lawgiver of the New Covenant. He teaches them and us with the authority of God’s only Son. This is my beloved son, my Chosen. Listen to Him. (Lk. 9: 35)
Concerning Anger (5: 21-26)
(5:21) You shall not kill: Jesus reaffirms that murder is unlawful but introduces a new dimension to the civil law. And, Jesus adds escalating punishments depending upon the severity of the sin. Anger is “liable to judgment.” (local court verdict) Insult is “liable to the council.” (Jewish Sanhedrin) Calling your brother “a fool” is liable to the “hell of fire.” (CCC 2302)
CCC 2302: Our Lord asks us to have peace in our heart and denounces murderous anger and hatred as immoral. If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound someone, it is a mortal sin; a grave sin against charity.
(5:22) you fool: this is a translation from the Greek. The Greek translates the Aramaic that Jesus used as an insult like “numbskull” or “empty-headed.”
(5:22) the hell of fire: The Greek expression denotes the Valley of Gehenna; a garbage dump south of Jerusalem where garbage was burned continually. Jesus wanted to illustrate the reality of damnation. (CCC 1034-35)
(CCC 1034-35) The unquenchable fire of eternal damnation is reserved for those who for their whole lives to the very end refuse to believe and be converted. Both body and soul will be lost.
The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Those who die in a state of mortal sin descend to hell where they suffer eternal fire.
Hell (Mk. 9: 43)
Jesus refers to Gehenna 11 times in the Gospels as a dreadful symbol of hell. Jesus evokes this imagery to tell us that hell is not a place of purification but one of fiery, eternal punishment.
Next Time: Concerning Adultery (5: 27-30)
Study Question: Discern other sins that would be sins against charity and the Fifth Commandment.
Meditation: Examine your conscience focusing on sins against charity.