Do It Now

"Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:20).
 
If our righteousness only keeps the letter of law -- neither more nor less -- we will miss the deep conversion of the heart that Jesus invites us to enter to know the Mercy of God
 
The scribes and Pharisees were perfect in the law, but only on the surface, keeping the rules and rituals that bolstered their reputations.  Real holiness delves into motives and desires, intentions and strategies that hide pride, envy, jealousy and resentment.
 
A man who hates his brother courts murder, and before he can take his gift to the altar he must reconcile with that brother.
 
Those who cannot let go of a grievance will be like two plaintiffs going to court. Settle early, because if you persist to the point of brooding, you will pass your judgment and lock yourself into the prison of your own pride. And then you will not get out until you have made peace to the smallest detail.
 
This is the pathology of unresolved conflicts. People go for years not speaking to one another, nursing a grievance until it defines their lives, creating a wound that never heals.  The longer they let it fester, the harder it is to heal, until it hardens the heart and limits our ability to love anyone with a heart free of hurt and suspicion.
 
If Lent could focus on resolving one longstanding conflict in our lives, perhaps with a parent, sibling or friend, what joy, freedom and peace of mind this might bring us.  A letter mailed, a phone call, a meeting over coffee, a hard conversation that revisits the past, asks for forgiveness, seeks a fresh start.
 
 Is this not the meaning of the words, “Repent and hear good news?” Isn’t this what Lent is for?