7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 19th February, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Pray for Persecutors


‘An eye for an eye, only ends up making the whole world blind.’ So surmised Mahatma Gandhi when explaining his approach to conflict; and of course he is right.

Revenge is an ever diminishing spiral, like a vortex that absorbs and contaminates all it touches.

Saint Paul tells us ‘the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God’. A good thing too because the accepted wisdom of the world at present seems to many of us sheer insanity; a bit like Topsy-Turvy Land where celebrities become world leaders wielding immense power, and scientists of great learning and stature are lampooned and discredited because their researched facts are uncomfortable and challenging.

The accepted ‘wisdom of the world’ seems, at the moment, to be dragging our community into a depressive funk. You can feel it out and about - mind you the heat doesn’t help. Indeed there are many improved minds who see also that as the result of our increasingly selfish ways, our inward looking propensity for self-interest at the expense of others, in this case the greater world community.

Jesus, in today’s gospel is looking outwards, at the bigger picture.

The first reading speaks of loving your neighbour and settling disputes within the community amicably. During his earthly ministry Jesus preached primarily to the Jewish people. He saw them as lost sheep with poor leadership having a hard time under a foreign overlord. But he says not to seek revenge (as was the message under the Patriarchs, Judges and Kings), but rather seek solutions through prayer.

This resonates in 2017. Prayer is indeed our best option, especially as we march or meander down through the years and our more robust responses to the battles of the day are increasingly limited.

While praying for our persecutors it is well to remember the mistakes of the Pharisee in the temple who thanked the Lord that he was not like that poor man standing down the back. Maybe we should pray for the needs of the persecutors, those needs which the Lord knows better than anyone, even the persecutors themselves. As with all bullies these folk are sad, unhappy people with pathetic histories. Shall we try to get our heavenly guardians on side too with a little angelic intervention?

Pray for persecutors they need all the help they can get.

Judith Croke