“Settle with your opponent while you are on your way to court…. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not e released until you have paid the last penny.” (Gospel reading: Matthew 5:20-26)
The “opponent” is often always ourselves, or the side of ourselves that we have not fully conceded to Christ’s peace. As St. Gregory says, we may have “dissonant parts” within that are fighting a civil war.
We “take on the name of Christ” by LIVING our lives in harmony with His law of love. Sometimes parts of ourselves forget His love, and the music that is within becomes, in an ugly way, discordant. No longer does our spirit sing peacefully. To restore that harmony– to be “true and authentic,” we must “pay the last penny”: we must put our money where our mouth is, and let our words and our deeds become one with Christ. Only then is He capable of transforming our hearts!
The “opponent” is our stubborn, selfish, proud half, and the “judge” is our All Merciful and All Just God in Heaven. It is interesting to note, however, that He is not the one who will throw us into prison, into Hell. No. We decide to throw ourselves into hell by hurting ourselves by rejecting His love here on earth.
God gives us to a “guard” because He cannot bear to see us, to look into our eyes, we who have willfully rejected Him who is Love, and throw us into Hell Himself. “Take him/her! Take this child of mine whom I love!” He says with the deepest sadness ever known to man as He hands one of His sons or daughters to His guard. Again, God cannot bear to throw us into Hell himself.
Yet it is in our sinfulness that God loves us even more, longing to give us the healing that we need to reconcile our dissonant parts. However, it is our choice to go to the Divine Physician or not, and to accept His love or not.
When we sin, we reject His grace, and we reject Him. Yet when we do what is pure, noble, holy, righteous, and good, we abide in (and one day, will be eternally bound to!) His love!