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I have always loved words and sometimes complex sentences cause us to pause to figure out which of the parts of speech is the subject, which is the object of the verb, etc. (Does that take you back to your youth as it does me?)

Here’s the example from today’s lectionary that gave me pause. From Matthew’s gospel (5:20-26) we read: “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…”

It doesn’t say: “if you have anything against your brother…” In other words, your brother is the subject of the clause, not you. But then the emphasis shifts and you become the subject (the “do-er”), the one who has to initiate the reconciliation. It calls for a deeper self-reflection because it doesn’t seem fair. Rather the gospel writer seems to be blaming me for what my brother has against me…making me dig deeper to examine why my brother has a quarrel with me and placing the responsibility for reconciliation on me…not always pleasant, right?

To avoid that kind of distress, we might do better to live always by the adage, “Love one another as I have loved you,” where the subject is clearly understood as you, the person spoken to, and the meaning is clear in the direct address.