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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Thanks be to God … for not asking us to pay the last penny…

Friday, March 02, 2007
Friday 1 of Lent

Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 129: Matthew 5:20-26


Today’s gospel ends with this terse sentence: “you will not get out till you have paid the last penny”.

During mass, after having heard this reading, the congregation will presumably answer, perhaps mechanically, “thanks be to God” … Thanks be to God for what? For God being such a ruthless accountant? Judging us and asking us to pay the last penny. Of course not. It is quite the opposite. Thank be to God … for not asking us to pay the last penny.

In fact, it seems that we are facing here a puzzling paradox. This gospel starts with “you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: you must not kill”. It alludes to the ten commandments given to Moses. But we quite often tend to forget how they were given: through the intercession of Moses who killed an Egyptian (Exodus 1:12)! What a strange paradox! The lawgiver seems not to be able to respect the law given. But this is not the point. Before following God’s commandments, we are thus asked not to compare, not to judge. Should we do so, should we mark other’s guilt, who would survive - see today’s psalm 129:2.

Perhaps, what Jesus invites us to discover today is that this silly dynamic of ‘accountancy’ is without end if we direct it towards others. We are judges over ourselves only … if we do so, we will not be asked to pay the last penny… “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

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