I’d like to turn our attention to a topic from the second part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus begins His “But I say to you” expositions. “But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.” (Matt 5:22-24)
We see the clearest application of this in the Mass. In the primitive church the kiss of peace was offered after the first part of the Mass and before the Eucharist. In the Western Church the sign of peace was moved quite early to where it was as Augustine described it, and to where it is today. The Western Church saw a close link between peace and communion–peace with one another before receiving the Prince of Peace, as can be easily inferred from the passage above. For reasons beyond the scope of our meditation, in the middle ages the laity were excluded from the sign of peace and it was then dropped altogether. Vatican II, however, restored the ancient rite of peace to all who participate at Mass.
The most important thing we may take away from this is that God is a father, and a father cannot be pleased with his children when they offer him love while not loving their brothers and sisters. St. John tells us in a letter, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and there is no scandal in him.” (1 John 2:9-10)
For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up. Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar. (Psalm 50:18-21 DR)
Interpreted in light of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we do not offer it merely in its objective form (which is of course always perfect, being the perfect Sacrifice of Christ) but, with a contrite and humble heart. And one cannot have a contrite and humble heart and yet hate his brother. Humility and meekness will lead us to see our own faults, the “beam in our own eye” (cf. Matt 7:3) and, in turn, remove our judgment of others.” For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matt 7:2)
We see here an application of the beatitudes (Blessed are the meek), explained in the Sermon, and lived in the life of the Church. We would do well to reflect on the Sermon often, and let these things come to light in our hearts.