Love versus Hatred

Sunday readings in brief 7 A

Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; Psalm 102(102); 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Mathew 5:38-48

Love versus Hatred

Dear friends, today is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We are going to pause this learning period this week and begin the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season is a time when we relive the events that culminated in our salvation, namely, the passion, crucifixion and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Through his amazing love for us, God sent his only Son to redeem us from the chains of sins and eternal death.

Coincidentally, today’s readings are talking to us about love. In the first reading, love is presented as a commandment of God. The imperative ‘must’ is used to phrase it, “You must love your neighbour as yourself”. It means all that we would wish done or not done to us, the same we must do or not do to others. My own experience has taught me that to love this way is very far from being easy.  However, hatred seems the easy thing when it comes to human relationships. While love seeks to forgive, heal and restore broken relationships, hatred does the contrary it seeks vengeance, causes wounds and separated the people. Love is a fruit of patience, maturity in faith and humility. Hatred is a child of pride, lack of faith and selfishness.

Love is easily said than done. Love is one of the most utilized words if not the most. It is used in both secular and religious songs, between members of the family, between friends and mostly between friends spouses or intimate friends. With the advancement of mobile phone technology, love has become the most texted word between friends, spouses and family members. In the olden days before the popularization of mobile phones, it was a very expensive, time-consuming and dangerous thing for a boy to express love for a girl. Society was very restrictive about how people expressed love and only those who were serious about it gathered the courage to express it openly. When love was extrinsically expressed between a man and a woman, we were almost sure that what followed was a wedding ceremony. Today, everything is done through phone calls, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc. and very rarely do we get any wedding out of it. If we get one, it only last as long as there is a network connection.

Why must we love? The answer is simple – because God loved us first. One of the biggest benefits of having faith in God is that we get a living reference and a reason to do good and avoid evil. If we contemplate upon the love God has for us, it becomes easy to extend the same to others. Those who do not subscribe to faith in God but to their own whims have no reference for love and therefore only love themselves.

In the Olden days both for the people of Israel and in our own traditional communities, vengeance was used as a punishment to detour evil from continuing. That is why it was said “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. This was a very biased way to judge the offenders because there was no reference to allegations of provocation. No one just decided to strike another in the eye without prior allegation or provocation. The justice system then only responded to the concrete offence without seeking to know the root cause of the aggression.

Christianity is a community-based value system whose justice system is based on the love of God for all including those who are not its members. Therefore, as Jesus taught, Christian love is not exclusive to Christians rather it finds even more meaning when extended to others outside the community. Thus the commandment is to love even those who hate and persecute us. Otherwise, it would be just a thing that we do amongst ourselves, as a community of believers and that would be no different from what evil people do amongst themselves.

Dear friends, the commandment of love is a call to be different from the world. Though difficult to do, love for those who hate, challenge, gossip and persecute us for no other reason other than jealousy is the test of our understanding and maturity in the faith. I invite us today to reflect upon the quality of love that we extend to the people we live or work with. Is it a Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram or TikTok quality of love or a redemptive quality of love that God extended to us through Christ Jesus?

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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