Mass & Directions

Sunday February 23rd: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Francis Parish | February 24, 2020, 8:32 pm | Reflections

   In today’s readings we hear a common message of loving our enemies and seeking no vengeance against them.  Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 5, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.”  A few verses later He adds, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”  I am certain that we would all agree that this is not so easily done.  We can come up with many scenarios where this may seem impractical altogether.  Of course it must be placed in proper context and today’s first reading, LV 19:17, offers up some additional guidance, “Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him.”  So, what exactly does this mean?
   We must first consider what exactly is it that would cause us to seek vengeance on another.  This may be hatred, anger or pride.  These in and of themselves could be causing us to sin even before we commit any retaliation against one who does us wrong.  Our mere thoughts of vengeance or vitriol toward another may be considered sinful.  We must prepare ourselves far in advance of any encounter with our enemies such that these vices do not cause us to, “incur sin because of him.”  If we are not working to form ourselves in such a way that avoids these visceral reactions before these encounters, we may not have any chance of living up to Jesus’ call to love instead of hate.  Of course prayer is an important part of this formation but also finding ways to practice this in our daily lives will help us to train ourselves to react in a way that avoids the sin.  Much of this comes from changing our perceptions of those who do us wrong each day.  Whether it is being cut off in traffic or having someone bump into us without any acknowledgement or apology.  These are opportunities for us to turn to prayer for the person.  We can never know what may be going on in their lives or if their conscience guides them in a way to realize their wrongdoing.  However, we can pray for them and allow God to do His work.
   Ultimately our victory is our attaining eternal salvation.  Just as the martyrs rejoiced despite being put through often horrific deaths, we too must rejoice at not allowing ourselves to fail God as in both cases, our rejoicing comes from not allowing our enemy to defeat us…spiritually!
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