February 23, 2020: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In each instance where Jesus says “but I say to you” I imagine him looking at me and addressing how I must choose to live in order to be his disciple. In our call to holiness, Jesus calls us to rise above resentment, anger, hatred, prejudice, animosity and violence. In their place, he calls us to love as he loves, as God loves. As he stated, if you only do what is required by the Law, what is unusual about that?
Jesus is calling us to live our lives differently than the rest of the world lives theirs, for the sake of the Reign of God. This conscious and deliberate decision sets Jesus’ follower apart for a very special purpose, that of taking part in his mission. We are to go beyond the “usual” and seek to be in right relationship with all, friend and foe alike. We are to be a transforming presence even in the midst of violence. We are to do more than what is asked for or required. We are to love; we are to be willing to forgive.
As Ordinary Time draws to a close and we enter the Holy Season of Lent this week, perhaps we can prayerfully sit with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-12 ) and then progress through the remainder of the chapter (verses 13-48). The last three weeks, our Gospels have followed this chapter and have invited us to experience the Sermon on the Mount as a description of Jesus himself and how he lived. Maybe this can be a profound way to explore where we have loved like Jesus and where we have withheld love.
We can examine what our experiences of discipleship have been and see how these experiences have transformed our life in simple or in profound ways. Jesus calls us to seek the path that leads to holiness or wholeness. On our journey, may we be guided by our Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and join with her in stating “This is the path traced by Providence. And I follow it”.