SirEwenii. You asked about Matthew 5:21-22 (especially: “whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire”).
Exaggeration? Hyperbole? Because surely saying “you fool!” is not a mortal sin!
This is a great question and one I pondered myself for quite sometime as well. The best answer I’ve found has been from Dr. Brandt Pitre’s audios (here).
Please forgive me as I cannot recall which audio in particular it was though. If you want you can PM me and I will give you a few suggestions.
He has a free audio on the Eucharist that is excellent (here). These things are often removed so I’d download it quickly and DO listen to it.
But back to the subject at hand. Think of . . . .
Thou shalt not murder (The Fifth Commandment).
CCC 2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.69
Infanticide,70 fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.
But the Fifth Commandment goes beyond this. We cannot even want our brother murdered (fratricide).
This in and of itself would be a violation of the Fifth Commandment too right?
CCC 2302 By recalling the commandment, "You shall not kill,"94 our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.
Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution "to correct vices and maintain justice."95 If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment."96
As stated, we cannot even want our brother murdered. This in and of itself would be a violation of the Fifth Commandment.
What would be worse than wishing our brother murdered?
Wishing our brother would go to eternal perdition. Wishing our brother would go to Hell!
This would tell us more of our soul (if we did such a thing) than it would our brother’s soul wouldn’t it?
CCC 2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."97
So keeping all of this (above) in mind, now let’s read Matthew 5:21-22
MATTHEW 5:21-22 21 "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.
Dr. Brant Pitre talks about this concept.
The “You fool” is a curse.
The Hebrew word there would be “raca”. It is a Hebrew idiom that goes beyond an observation and is a declaration.
Think of it like: “The fool says in his heart there is no God” (see Psalm 14:1).
We know without faith, it is impossible to please God.
HEBREWS 11:6 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
What if you had someone who WISHED their brother had no faith in God?
What if you had someone who WISHED their brother would literally go to Hell?
There are 6 ways you can commit Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
*]Presumption of God’s mercy
*]Impugning the known truth
*]Envy at another’s spiritual good
*]Obstinacy in sin
What would you think of the spiritual condition of that guy who WISHED their brother were in Hell (think: Envy at another’s spiritual good)?
“Raca” or the Hebrew word that would be used here for “you fool”, is likely in the sense of . . . not an observation (“you are so foolish”) . . . . but . . . . in the sense of a declaration (“may you be an unbeliever with all of its consequences including going to Hell”).
This guy is so mad at his brother, he wishes an evil outcome upon his brother. He wants his brother to go to Hell!
Incidentally. Brother in a Semitic sense goes way beyond your siblings.
But Jesus warning for us here should extend well beyond our brother.
We should not wish ANYONE would go to Hell. Why? Because if we do this guy will go to Hell? No! Because if we do, WE might go to Hell.
(bold and ul CCC and Scripture above mine, italics original)