Preaching Matthew

Gerald O’Collins SJ

Coming to terms
(Matthew 5.25–26)
‘Come to terms with your opponent in good time, while you are still on the way to court with him’. Jesus brings up a good legal principle: settle out of court while there is still time to do so. Come to terms with your opponent before you face the magistrate or judge. Once court proceedings have started, things may start turning out badly for you.

Jesus wants us to take advantage of the time that has been given to us, the gift of time that we enjoy here and now. Using his own words and experience of what he knows can happen in court, Jesus anticipates what St Paul says. The apostle draws on the prophet Isaiah to say: ‘now is the acceptable hour; now is the day of salvation’ (2 Cor. 6.2). In that way, Paul also urges us to come to terms with God in good time.

In particular, we could sum up the challenge of Advent and Lent by taking over Paul’s language. Now is the acceptable hour for us; now is the day of our salvation. Or we could follow Jesus’ language and pray: ‘Lord, let me come to terms with you in that good time you have given me. Time is running out, but I still do have time to let you set things right in my life’.

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