Gospel Reflection for the 7th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A – February 19th 2017
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 collectorsdo 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.’
A rather homely image for God’s generous love: the sun shine and the rain pours on everyone. God offers love to us all. Maybe we can notice this week how open we are to this love?
God’s love can be found in the cry of your grandchild, the smile of your child, the care of a friend. It is like the ordinary sunshine. Other times it’s like a heatwave and you really believe you are loved. Somewhere deep within is the conviction that I am loved. A poet Raymond Carver writes: “And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.”
This love is as close to us as the sun on the skin and the rain.
We may find it in other ways – the times I really reach out to someone who is suffering; or I notice the tremendous efforts for peace, justice and reconciliation being made by known or unknown people often at great risks to themselves.
The second word is that our love is to be something similar – offered not only when it may be returned. Often it is hard to offer love again. We don’t want to risk being hurt again. This is only human. When we feel like this, we can always pray for a person. The prayer will go with a blessing to another, and also with a blessing to ourselves.
This is the gospel of the open heart of God to all; shared in the open heart and open hands of God’s people to share his kingdom on earth.
Lord, may your kingdom come in our small corners of the world.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger
Reflections for Year A, first published in other years in Logos Missalette, have now been published in book form:
Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew, Messenger Publications 2016, €9.99
Order online at www.messenger.ie, or in Veritas and other booksellers.