Sunday, February 23rd (Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time)
… that the Spirit of God dwells in you…
Blessings to all of you, my dear friends in Christ. Today we again take up our places as hearers of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, while He challenges us with the impossible: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Here we hear the famous (and perhaps all-to-familiar) instruction: But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Maybe we’ve heard it all too many times before, so that the shock value has worn off. Then again, perhaps we’ve never truly heard it at all. Certainly, it’s easy enough to encourage others to show mercy rather than seek justice – as long as we’re not the ones who’ve gotten hurt.
But Jesus’ command is meant for all who would call themselves children of your heavenly Father – and that means you and me and all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus (and certainly all who would dare to approach the altar to receive the Son of our heavenly Father in Holy Communion!)
How do I respond when I’m treated unjustly by others? When someone strikes me on my right cheek, do I offer her the other as well? If anyone wants to sue me over my shirt, do I freely hand over my shorts as well? Do I seek to be repaid or rewarded or recognized for some service or gift that I give to my spouse or my neighbor or my church? Or can I recognize that the same Spirit of God dwells in me and my neighbor, so that just as God makes His sun rise (freely) on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust, so then I, too, might do the same.
If Our Father only loved those who love Him – what kind of world would we live in? (Would we be alive at all?!) What if you and I would truly love those who hate us and those who persecute us – if we might be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect – what kind of world might we live in then? To be perfect in the eyes of our heavenly Father, we need to be more compassionate with those we might not normally consider.
Together we need to rise in faith and go the extra mile. Certainly there are different ways to do this, but one way is by giving to the Bishop’s Appeal. Funds raised during the Bishop’s Appeal help people in our parish we know and people in our Diocese that we don’t know. Children and adults attend lively programs learning the Word of God, Care Ministers are trained to minister to members in our parish, Catholic Charities provides counseling to people in need, families seeking to adopt are connected with newborn babies. Your gift to the Bishop’s Appeal makes happy endings possible and helps you show love and compassion to others.
What you give is less important than the spirit in which you give. To make a gift contact our parish office, use the letter and pledge you received at home or visit the Bishop’s Appeal website at www.catholicfoundationgb.org/give.
Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,