“If, therefore, you bring your gift to the altar…” So contains a key phrase in understanding the Gospel reading for Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time. “Therefore,” as a result of what went before, “When you bring your gift to the altar…” What comes before is Jesus speaking, first, in Aramaic, and then in Greek.
The Aramaic word ריקה transliterates into an English word, “Raqa.” “America” transliterates, “אמריקה.” We should be careful when accusing someone of being “Raqa.” “Am/אמ” is the Hebrew word for “nation.” In Hebrew and Aramaic, “אמריקה” “America,” means “Empty, vain, or worthless people.”
Jesus tells us, “Whoever grinds his teeth at his brother is liable to judgment. Whoever calls his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to those sitting together (San) in the seats (Hedra) of judgment or Sanhedran. Our “Cathedral” in Reno comes from “Cat” (Hedra) or sitting down place of the Bishop. Whoever says, “Moron,” is liable to the fiery Jerusalem landfill the people called Gehenna.”
If a glass is empty, we can fill it. We can change this state of emptiness. If a person is worthless, we can motivate him, causing him to become valuable. If a man is a moron, “μωρόν,” that is a trait he is born with. We cannot change that. If we call someone worthless, we devalue him. We say we are better than they are. We put ourselves over other people.
“Unless your charity surpasses that of the grammarians and the Separate ones, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. “Scribe,” in Greek is “γραμματεύς” “grammarian.” “Pharisee,” is Hebrew for “Separate one.”
The Grammarians associate with the Separate ones. They are better than others are, because of their position in the world. Grammarians become so lost in their grammar, they forget to see, or hear, the message the grammar is meant to convey, forgetting how meaning sells more than grammar.
Grammarians have the right to set the rules, some of which are very silly. Only black ink is valid on official papers, not blue, or red, or pink… for whatever reason. Titles of papers either must or must not use punctuation, or capitalization; the reason is not clear. You must hold your napkin at the dinner table on your lap a certain way, or you are not civilized. The colors of your clothes must color coordinate or you are not civilized. It is a rule and the grammarians write the rules.
“If, therefore, you bring your gift to the altar…” It does not matter if the person is worthless or a moron. If we call someone the latter, the punishment is stiffer. God made that person. By attacking him, what we are really attacking is the handiwork of God himself.
“Settle with your opponent while on the way to court, or your opponent will hand you over to the judge. The judge will hand you over to the guard who will throw you will be into prison. The guard will not release you, until you pay the last κοδράντην.” A quadran was one fortieth of a denarius, $20 worth of bread. That is $.05, or the proverbial plug nickel. It is better to settle out of court.
“If you bring your gift to the altar, and recall your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar. Go! Be reconciled with your brother. Then come and offer your gift.” “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the charitable but the failures,” Hosea 6:6. Your temple, your religion, will not protect you in the time of judgment. God wants peace, not strict adherence to trivial rules.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:1-2. “Do not judge. You are judged in the measure you judge.” If you want to know what others think of you, ask, “What do I think of them?” Remember the old salesmen’s comment, “Have I got a deal for you.” If we want others to think the best of us, think the best of them. There is no room for empty people, worthless people, or morons. There is only room for Amour icons, “Americans,” people who are the icons of amour.