Gospel Reflection for the Seventh Sunday Ordinary Time Year A – February 23rd 2014
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them: “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:1-2. 17-18
Jesus said to his disciples:’You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Quite a tough gospel and first reading. We like sometimes to get our own back. Happens. I’ll get you for that. We know the vengeance of our own country… political and family. Eye for eye… brings no peace but a quiet lull in violence.
Peace is the way
And we know the opposite. People see the enemy walking the street and know that the only way forward is to make peace. Maybe not even forgiveness. Some can find a way forward gradually.
The forgiveness of the gospel is a slow journey. We have the small hurts and have ways of dealing with them. But the big ones are there too of injustice, getting a job over someone with a lie, being abused, family being mocked, bullying. Time heals and prayer helps… can you bring someone to God – to the cross. Pray with someone at the cross; it makes a difference.
A final word about loving the self – we need to allow this. The love of God is the love which helps us love the self. In the normal hurts and grievances of life we can be healing people if we love ourselves. We are people who often hate the self for our addictions, big and small faults and a past that may haunt us.
The love of God is a grace… filling that space open to love and hatred for ourselves in our hearts… the grace of loving self and other.
Be perfect… become like God… holy like God in compassion and in love. This is a wonderful vision for ourselves, our church and our world. The dream of God that all God’s children live in love, peace and justice.
Donal Neary SJ