Sevent Sunday in Ordinary Time ——– February 20, 2022

1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23, Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13 1 Cor 15:45-49, Lk 6:27-38

It is one thing when we hear of people talking about equality, justice, and love. But when we actually see people living out those values that is when we start to pay attention. We will listen and we will follow such people. People who are willing to live the gospel in an uncompromising way. Many times, when Christians get together, we end up talking about how we can get people to come back to church again. The simple fact is that, if we would put Jesus’ words into practice, people would come from miles around to worship with us. If we were a community that truly valued the poor among us, that welcomed the homeless, and that reached out to sinners, then people would want to join us. All of us who listened closely to Jesus’ words in the gospel today were probably moved by the beauty of what we heard. It makes sense that if we only love those who love us back and only do good to those who do good to us then there is nothing upright or heroic in that. The truth of Jesus’ words rings in our hearts. It makes us want to be the type of people who can love even our enemies and do good even to those who wish us harm. In the core of our being, we want to be people who forgive, who bless others, and who love unconditionally. However, as we try to live those words, we come face-to-face with our human weakness. As much as we may want to forgive, we find ourselves holding on to petty grudges. As much as we may want to do good to others, we hear a voice within us asking, “what’s in it for me?” And as much as we want to be generous with our possessions, we fear that we will be taken advantage of. So, few people live up to today’s gospel because of pride and fear. And when we see others holding back, we are tempted to do the same. Is it really possible to live the words of today’s gospel? Is it really possible to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who mistreat us? Is it possible to turn the other cheek to those who strike us and give money to those whom we know can never pay us back? The fact is that, no matter how much we may admire Jesus’ words and hope to live up to them, it is impossible to do so with our human hearts. Only those who know the love of God and have received that love into their hearts can then show such unconditional love to others. Only those who have experienced God’s forgiveness can then turn around and forgive others. Only those who know that they are accepted by God just as they are can then love their neighbors without judging them. Only those who understand that all they have comes from a generous God can then give generously to others.