February 20, 2017

7th Sun., Ordinary Time

February 19, 2017:  Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • 'Heart' pin, 'love' sticker on suspenders:  Don't bear hatred in your heart.  Love your neighbor as yourself (1st reading); love your enemies (gospel)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  The Lord crowns you with kindness and compassion (psalm)
  • 'Dove' pin: The Spirit dwells in you (2nd reading)
  • 'Owl' tie pin, 'John's Jokers' tie:  The world's wisdom is foolishness to God (2nd reading)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  No longer "an eye for an eye" (gospel)
  • 'Coin' tie bar:  Don't refuse one who wants to borrow (gospel)
  • 'Sun' tie pin:  The Father makes the sun rise on the bad and the good (gospel)
  • 'Walker' tie pin:  Go the extra mile (gospel)

For Psalm 103
For future Sundays
Pope Francis Angelus
Today's gospel expresses the Christian “revolution” well.  Christ shows the path of true justice, through the law of love that overcomes that of retaliation.  Jesus doesn't just ask that we bear evils patiently, but to return good for evil; only then can the chains of evil be broken.  Refusal to return evil for evil can involve giving up a legitimate right:  turning the other cheek, giving up your cloak,...  But this doesn’t mean that the needs of justice should be ignored or contradicted; Christian love, manifested in mercy, represents a superior realization of justice.
Jesus teaches the distinction between justice and vengeance.  It's our right to ask for justice and our duty to practice it, but we can't exact or encourage revenge, hatred, or violence.  Christ’s law of love calls us even to love our enemies.  This isn't approval of their actions, but an invitation to a higher perspective, like the Father's.  They're created in God's image, even if their acts obscure the image.  Christ calls us to respond to them with goodness, inspired by love.
May Mary help us follow this demanding path that exalts human dignity and makes us live as children of our heavenly Father.  May she help us practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and to be artisans of communion....
  • Lv 19:1-2, 17-18  Be holy, for I, the Lord, am holy.  Don't bear hatred in your heart.  Cherish no grudge.  Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13  "The Lord is kind and merciful."  Bless the Lord who pardons, redeems, heals, shows compassion and mercy.
  • 1 Cor 3:16-23  You're God's holy temple; the Spirit dwells in you.  If you consider yourself wise, become a fool; the world's wisdom is foolishness to God.  Don't boast about people; we belong to you, you to Christ, and Christ to God.
  • Mt 5:38-48  You've  heard, Eye for eye and tooth for tooth, but I tell you, Offer the wicked no resistance.  Turn the other cheek.  Hand over your cloak. Go an extra mile.  Give and lend.  You've heard, Love your neighbor, but I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, that you may be your Father's children.  Be perfect like your Father.
    • Creighton:  We get daily opportunities to judge poorly, act selfishly, explode in anger, or make shortsighted decisions, forgetting who we are, who God is, and how God acts.   Today’s readings ask us to remember who we are, to whom we belong, and how to act. 1st reading:  Others may need correction, but don’t incur sin because of them.  Psalm: The Lord is kind, merciful, slow to anger.  2nd reading:  You're God's temple; worldly wisdom is foolish.  Gospel:  love your enemies; be perfect.  Don't retaliate.  We depend on Grace to be whole, holy, blameless (senses of 'perfect') scripture scholars give us these words as a better translation of “perfect”).  To whom have I been kind and merciful today?
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Loving those who hurt you":  Jesus surprised his fellow Jews by saying that loving others is the second commandment, and with the first the basis of the law and prophets.  The second commandment is more than being friendly and helping out; it's not bearing hatred, taking revenge, or holding a grudge, so Jesus was prohibiting those.  Do I love your neighbor according to God's standards?
    • Passionist:  Before Jesus' time Jews and others taught that our holiness is connected with our love of God and neighbor.  God created us so we could love God and others. This teaching was written down and handed on because we need to be reminded.  We may not realize we carry hate till we're wronged, done injustice, or slighted.  We may manifest it slowly or let it gush out; either way, it's destructive.  Once we believe we can hate, reject, dehumanize, or ignore the other, we turn our backs on others.  It takes faith for us to love God and neighbor, overcoming our tendency to hate, remembering hatred has disguises, masks, and ways of being expressed.  The wise of this world think they can lie without consequence, and that most people are like them, so they can make destructive, dehumanizing laws.  We're called to love unconditionally, wholeheartedly....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Don't return evil for evil":  Jesus approached the question of retribution by giving a standard based not on giving people their due but on grace, love, and freedom.  "Eye for eye," cruel as it sounds now, was meant to limit vengeance as a step towards mercy; it was generally not taken literally but guided judges in assessing penalty.  The Old Testament commands mercy:  Don't take vengeance or bear grudges but love your neighbor.  Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, even enemies.  Don't pay people back for what they did.  Give your cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.  Jesus transforms the law of mercy with grace, forbearance, and loving-kindness, with no room for retaliation.  We must seek the good of those who wish us ill.  Do I?
    Only the cross can free us from malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and give us courage to return evil with good.  Jesus suffered insult, abuse, injustice, and death for our sake.  As God has been merciful towards us through the offering of his Son, we're called to be merciful towards our neighbor, even those who harm us.  God gives power and grace to believers; his love conquers all, even our hurt, fear, and prejudice.
    Jesus' command to "be perfect" parallels two passages from the Hebrew scriptures:  God instructed Abraham to "be perfect/blameless" before God.  The original meaning of 'perfect' (Hebrew and Aramaic) is 'completeness,' 'wholeness,' 'not lacking in what's essential.'  And God commanded Moses and Israelites to "be holy, for I am holy." God created each of us in his image and calls us to grow to become like him, loving as he loves, choosing to do good and reject evil.  God, who knows our sinfulness and weaknesses, assures us of his love, mercy, and help, and so gives us his power, strength, and gifts so we may have all we need to do his will and live as his children....

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