You Shall Not Kill!


(Green) Cycle A/Year I (February 12, 2017)
Sir 15:15-20/1Cor 2:6-10/Mt 5:17-37

In one of the old Peanuts comic strips, Charles Schulz shows Sally trying to locate her memory verse for Sunday school. She has forgotten it, and can’t locate it in the Bible. She is lost in her thoughts trying to remember the reference when she suddenly says, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.” Keith Krell concludes the story saying that Sally’s butchering of the book of Revelation is apropos, for the entire Bible is aimed at getting people to reevaluate their lives.

The gospel for this Sunday is a reevaluation of the fifth commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill!” This commandment has been imposed by God since the Old Testament times and the Jews tried to live by the law. The Ten Commandments are in fact meant for the whole humanity. It is our obligation as human beings to respect every form of human life because it is created in the image and likeness of God. To respect a human person/life is to respect God who is its Creator. Regardless of how sinful and useless a human person is in the society, still s/he must be respected and treated with human dignity because s/he bears the very image of God. We have no right to condemn anybody to death because only God, the giver of life, has the right to take it away. What we can do as Christians is to help reform the sinners and the criminals and bring them back to their lost dignity as images and children of God.

On the other hand, the fifth commandment is not only about not killing as manifested clearly by the mandate. Jesus Christ clarified the commandment by saying: “Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna” (Mt 5:22). Anger then is a violation of the fifth commandment. For this reason, St. Paul said to the Ephesians: “If you are angry, let it be without sin; the sun must not go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26). To feel angry is not sinful; what constitutes a sin is the evil action that is brought about by anger. Indeed, we must be reminded that anger is only one letter away from danger.

Whoever curses his brother or sister or say anything evil against them is guilty of violating the fifth commandment. Since our brother and sister are images and children of God, we cannot simply curse them or desire something evil against them. We have to see Jesus in them and respect them because in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, Jesus said that reconciliation is important enough to interrupt worship: “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5: 23-24). There is indeed no genuine worship when we hate our brother or sister. We cannot love God if we do not love our neighbors. Genuine love for God must be manifested in our relationship with our neighbors because Jesus commanded us: “Love God and love your neighbor.” We cannot love if there is anger in our hearts; we cannot worship God if we do not forgive our enemies.