THEME: “CALLED TO BE HOLY”
((Readings: 1st: Lev 19:12,17-18; Ps: 103; 2nd: 1Cor 3:16-23; Gos: Mt 5:38-48))
Today being the 7th Sunday in ordinary time, our Holy mother church wants us to reflect on our nature as the people of God. In the first reading, God told his people through Moses to be Holy because He is Holy. The term holiness is derived from the Latin word Sanctus which means to be sacred or pure. Holiness is the nature of God. To make something Holy means to set it aside for a certain purpose. Places like churches are Holy because of the presence of God in them. In Ex 3 God asked Moses to take off his “sandals” because he was standing on Holy ground. St. Paul today in the second reading tells that our body is the temple of God because the spirit of God dwells in us.
Holiness gives us different standards from other people. As the holy people of God, we have to withdraw from anything that defiles our sanctity. In addition, we must go the extra mile in our actions and conducts rather than holding on to what is ordinary and usual. Jesus asks in the Gospel: “If you love only those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not even the tax collectors(sinners) do the same? If you greet and help only your brothers, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:46-48). In Mt 5:20, Jesus adds “For I tell you that if your righteousness does not surpass that of the Pharisees and scribes, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven”.
According to the Jews, holiness consisted in avoiding certain foods that can defile a man, keeping off from unclean people and animals, and strict observance of the laws and traditions of their elders. (A story of the two monks observing the vow of chastity). However, Christian’s holiness consists of the following:
- KEEPING THE COMMANDMENT OF LOVE: Love for God and neighbor is the summary of all the commandments. However, according to Jesus, a Christian must go the extra mile by loving the enemies. Is that possible? If we cannot love those who hate us what is our difference from pagans and sinners? We have endless conflicts and wars in the world because we are not practicing our Christianity. We rather prefer as St. Paul tells us to follow the “wisdom of men” which states “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Ex 21:23-25) rather than the “wisdom of God” which teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus extends the law of love for neighbors to include strangers and people with special needs. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb 13:2)
- NOT BEARING GRUDGES OR HATRED AGAINST OTHERS
Forgiveness is a topic easier to speak about than to practice. One theologian once said, “to forgive is like to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was yourself”. Forgiveness does not mean suppressing your feelings or pretending that you are okay. It is a conscious decision and process to release your resentment and thoughts of revenge. Keeping grudges and hatred towards others destroys the sanctity of our souls and denies us peace. Today let us pray for a special grace to release the hatred and grudges that we keep in our hearts. Our heart is the temple of God and we need to keep it Holy.
- UNCONDITIONAL GENEROSITY
Jesus tells his disciples, “Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away” (Mt5:42). Normally people are generous only to friends but that does not add any value before God. Instead, Jesus said, “When you make a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Lk 14:12-24)
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. The happiest and most blessed people are those who give unconditionally for they attract mercy from God. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7).
In brief, Jesus is teaching us today love and generosity towards our enemies. It is easier to speak about it than to practice but it is possible if we rely on the grace of God. “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). We should emulate Christ who prayed for his enemies; “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). Love is the medicine that heals every heart. Without love, we can never progress, have peace or be happy. St. Augustine simply said, “Love and do whatever you wish to do”. May love, peace and compassion reign in your heart. Amen
PRAYER: God grants me the grace to love, forgive, and give others unconditionally. Amen
Have a blessed Sunday!! ((Contact our vocation office on +255629269140 or +254792299140))
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the word and the spirit of Grace; and may the heart of Jesus live in the heart of all the people. Amen” SVD Prayer
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