7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 24th February, 2019

Liturgical Reflection

 

I am currently reading the gospels (again), and attempting to read them with ‘fresh eyes’.  As I do this I picture myself as a second century Roman woman, reading a new book on recommendation from a friend.  As a ‘cradle Catholic’ who cannot remember a time when I didn’t know about God the Father or his son Jesus, this is a bit of a challenge.

 

 

In this spirit I look at today’s gospel:

‘Do good to those who hate you’.  Wow, the concept is quite extreme and shocking.  Is it meant to be so or is there a problem with translation?

I like to translate it for myself as ‘do good to those who annoy you’.  On quiet reflection of an evening I find the people who have annoyed me are those I have spent the most time with during the day.

I heard a tele-evangelist once stating that she was overflowing with kindness and mercy.  This feeling of compassion lasted, she said, until she put her feet on the floor of a morning and encountered the people in her family and her workmates.

It is indeed a hard command to fulfil.

We can sometimes think that the Old Testament is awash with retribution and that its writers even appear to relish the idea of God admonishing the sins of Israel with monotonous regularity through all sorts of heinous repercussions.

But now Jesus says ‘not any more’, love and forgiveness is the way forward.  He presents a portrait of God the Father which is not new but obvious when he says, ‘for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked’.

Was it Ghandi who said ‘Christianity is a good idea but it just hasn’t been tried yet’?

The Hindus and Buddhists with their philosophies of karma could have written the last paragraph in today’s Gospel.  However, it appears to be a hard lesson for us to learn.  We seem to be too quick with the unspoken judgement and the knee-jerk reaction.

The First Reading gives an example of a more measured response.

David, when he had the chance could have and would have killed Saul if he had listened to those around him.  But he didn’t take the easy route of retribution.  Later the king realised he had had an encounter with a better man than himself.  Someone who could demonstrate courage without violence and someone who acknowledged the glory and the power of God.

Judith Croke