Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus taught us the truth about God’s laws, as revealed first through Moses, which the people had often misinterpreted and took it at the face value and keep it just at that. Many failed to see the true intention of God’s laws and ordinances, and their true purpose. God did not intend for His laws to punish or pressure His people with burden, because He intended His laws for love.

That was why Jesus showed God’s people, that His laws should not be interpreted in a way that exclude love out of the equation. The ancient laws and customs of the Jewish people included the concept of vengeance and revenge, named accurately, ‘do ut des’, which means that one receives what one has given, or the concept of reciprocity.

That when translated into how the people carried out the laws of God means that a particularly harsh way of dealing with crimes and how to punish these lawbreakers. They had those who had committed a crime to pay back exactly what they had committed, and that is why the term, an eye for an eye and so on and so forth.

The result was clear, the community of the people of God, that is Israel, became a society governed with fear, prejudice and hatred, that is very far from what God intended for them, that is to build upon a community of love and inclusiveness. The people became boxed in into their obedience to the law, and the fear of God and His wrath should they disobey the law.

Yet, in doing so, under the guidance of the Pharisees in particular, the laws had been lost in its true meaning, often covered by false obedience and empty observations of the law. Jesus showed them that there is a need for the understanding of the purpose of the Law. The Law is about love, and in obeying the law, the people of God have to observe love in all their actions and deeds.

And this love is in fact not the same kind of love that we are often accustomed to in this world. The love that we know about in this world is often a very selfish love. Just as Jesus had said, we often love only those who love us back, and we do not love our enemies and those who hate us. We hate them back and even curse at them as best as we can.

And in our understanding of love, we even have it at an even more flawed level, one that is mingled with lust, greed and human desire. Our form of love is corrupted by desire and wickedness. We lust and desire for worldly pleasures, and that results in us failing further to understand what God truly intends for us.

We are often prejudiced and choosy in our love, and we give no love to those whom we do not love, and those who hate us. But the Lord shows us that when we love we cannot be prejudiced, and we have to be selfless in giving our love. Love should be given to all around us, and even to those who hate and persecute us. If we love only those who already love us, then what we do to them are not quite as meaningful as if we love those who hate us.

The Lord shows us that He knows about what it means to value-add our faith, and the love that is in this world. Loving our enemies and those who hate us will in itself help them to understand love, and hopefully that they will be awakened from their slumber in darkness and in the seas of hate. It falls upon us then, for us to show love to them. If we show them hate instead of love, then we are likely to end up dooming them to hate, and we will be held responsible for that too.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, in line with what Jesus had taught and shown us, we have to change our perspectives of those around us, our brothers and sisters. We must not be judgmental or be filled with prejudice. We have to show love to all, even when the other side does not want our love. Show them that to be children of God means to love. And when we love, we have to do so unconditionally.

Let us all deepen our faith in God and deepen our understanding of His will. Let us understand further the love He has for us, and let us hope that we mankind may learn to love more, and to devote ourselves truly to God, seeking God in all the things we do, and follow in His ways in all of our actions. May God walk with us and guide us, teach us how to understand His will and show us how to love each other and to love Him. Amen.

Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 38-48

You have heard that it was said : An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you this : do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked, and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said : Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you : Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.

If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect.

Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 3 : 16-23

Do you not know that you are God’s Temple, and that God’s Spirit abides within you? If anyone destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. God’s Temple is holy, and you are this Temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s eyes. To this, Scripture says : God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says : The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless.

Because of this, let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, Paul, Apollos, Cephas – life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.

Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10, 12-13

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Leviticus 19 : 1-2, 17-18

YHVH spoke to Moses and said, “Speak to the entire assembly of the people of Israel and say to them : Be holy for I, YHVH, your God, am holy.

Do not hate your brother in your heart; rebuke your neighbour frankly so as not to share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or nurture a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself; I am YHVH.