21 Feb 7th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
On this 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time we find ourselves only a few days away from the beginning of Lent. Both last week’s and this week’s readings are a great preparation for Lent. Last week, our readings went so far as to face us with the choice of choosing life or choosing death. How easy a choice that should be! However the reading went on to equate that choice with choosing good or choosing evil. With the imposition of ashes, the standard formulary is “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel!” The whole of our Lenten Season is an invitation to examine how we are responding to God’s grace to be true saints.
In Leviticus 19 (our first Reading) God calls us to be holy as He is holy. Holiness means separateness, distinctiveness, from the world. It is a quality of God. By making Israel His people, God made them holy, too. This is made clear, as far as the Christian Church is concerned in our Second Reading: “God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
The Gospel for today continues the Sermon on the Mount which we heard from last week. Today Jesus quotes Leviticus when he speaks of “an eye for and eye and tooth for tooth.” In the next statement He combines the love of neighbor with what is never found in the Old Testament; i.e. “one should hate the enemies of God and of Israel.” Jesus is not contradicting the Old Testament but is radicalizing it. The “eye for eye” injunction was not meant to sanction revenge but to restrict it. Now Jesus rules it out altogether.
What do we do if we find it impossible to love an enemy? What do we do if we find it impossible to pray for someone who has hurt us deeply? What do we do if we find it impossible to forgive a certain person? We can do three things. The first thing we can do is to ask for the grace to forgive the person. The second thing we can do is pray for that person’s well-being. We can do what Jesus did on the cross when He prayed saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
The third thing we can do is try to see the person in a new light. We can hopefully see people not as enemies but as human beings. We can hopefully see them as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. We would see them as God saw them when He created them. We would see them as Jesus saw them when He died on the cross for them. God invites us too see all fellow human beings whom He loved enough to create and whom Jesus loved enough to die for.
Dear God, help us to see all men and women through your eyes for what they really are, brother and sister, not enemies! May this Lent be for all a great time of seeing ourselves as God sees us! May it be a time for us to see each other as He sees us!