You or your gift?

Let no one say, I didnt sin against God; I sinned against a brother, against a man: its a slight sin, or even no sin at all. Perhaps you say its slight because its quickly cured. You sin against a brother; you make up for it, and youre healed. Your fatal deed was quickly done, but youve quickly found a remedy. Which of us, my brothers and sisters, would hope for the Kingdom of God when the Gospel says, Whoever says Fool! to his brother shall be in danger of hell fire. Great terror! But see the remedy stated there: If you offer your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar. God is not angry because you delay putting your gift there. God seeks you more than your gift. For if you have an evil mind toward your brother when you come with your gift to your God, he will reply: Youve perished, and you bring me something? You offer your gift, and you are not yourself a gift for God. Christ seeks more the one whom he redeemed by his blood than anything you find in your storehouse. Leave your gift there at the altar, and go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Mt 5:22-24). See how quickly the one in danger of hell is forgiven. While you were not yet reconciled, you were in danger of hell; reconciled, you can safely offer your gift at the altar. (Augustine, Sermon 82, 5; PL 38, 508)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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