Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 23
May We Always Open Our Hearts to God’s Gift of His Spirit, Whose Indwelling Becomes Our Source of Strength and Guidance in Life.
When we look at today’s Scripture Readings, there are so many different verses upon which we could reflect – holiness, love, forgiveness, mercy, wisdom, meekness. But for me, I believe the one verse which sums everything into a single idea is the last verse of today’s Gospel, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
When we look at the tremendous unrest occurring throughout the world today and the many terrorist attacks still being perpetrated against innocent peoples, including the assaults against blameless women and children and the violent persecutions which the Christian communities are enduring as a minority people in various countries, our faith reminds us that living the virtues of love, forgiveness and mercy is what separates us as a Christian people from all the rest.
In the midst of the trials, tribulations and difficulties which each person endures in this life, in the midst of personal grief and sorrow, even in the midst of discrimination and torment which many of our Christian brothers and sisters have suffered and endured throughout the centuries, our Lord says to each one of us today, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, which we hear spoken throughout the year and upon which we reflect each day, is referred to as the “Good News”, for it imparts to us God’s Truth concerning the way in which we are to live our lives, so that we may merit eternal life after our short time here on Earth comes to an end. It is a message of God’s promise of a life far better than anything the human mind could ever imagine! It is truly the message of hope!
Jesus warns His followers in today’s Gospel that they will be confronted with hostility, persecution, betrayal, even hatred, for there will be many who will oppose the message of the Gospel. There will be many who will oppose it intensely and, sometimes, even with violence!
And there have been occasions throughout the course of our own history when we have seen this violence play itself out even here in my own country, when brother fought against brother in a great Civil War.
We have reflected over the past few weeks on how Original Sin has weakened our human nature, for we are inclined to be drawn towards sin. And yet, God says to us today in our First Reading from the Book of Leviticus, “Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” And Jesus, Himself, rephrases this for His followers in today’s Gospel, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Was Jesus exaggerating when he reminded His disciples of the life God was expecting of them, and of us? No! Rather, our Lord knows only too well our weaknesses and our sinfulness better than we do ourselves. He knows our limitations; and yet, in spite of our frail human nature, we find, throughout Sacred Scripture, God reassuring us of His Love, Mercy and the strengthening provided by His grace, so that you and I may be able to follow in His ways.
We are able to love and forgive because of the Infinite Gift which God has given to each of us – His Holy Spirit. And Paul reminds us in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
It is this Gift of His Presence which enlightens us to the will of the Eternal God. It is this Gift of His indwelling in each of us who sanctifies us when we choose to open our hearts and conform ourselves to the mind and will of God, living a life of sanctity, a life of virtue, a life of self-sacrificing love for the benefit of others, not only for family, friends and loved ones, but also for those who betray our love and cause us harm, be it emotional or physical.
Jesus once said, “…learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” It is only when we remove from ourselves the pride and the narcissistic or conceited sense of ego and self-centeredness, which prevents us from becoming more Christ-like, that we are then able to grow in virtue – whereby the indwelling of God’s Spirit can truly begin to work within us, sanctifying our life of faith – and we can begin to truly rise towards that state of perfection which belongs to God alone, and in which each of us is invited to share.
Paul reminds us today that we each belong “to Christ, and Christ to God.” Our faith teaches us that Jesus is not only our God and our Savior, He is also our True Brother, who continuously and tirelessly invites us to share our eternity with Him, standing at His right side, giving glory and praise to His Father and ours.
May we always give to God our heartfelt desire to grow in virtue and holiness. May we always open our hearts to God’s Gift of His Spirit who calls us to personal holiness, whose indwelling becomes our Source of strength in times of trial, whose Presence will guide us along each step we take in our individual walks of faith here on this side of eternity.
For it is this most Intimate Friend, the Holy Spirit, who will become our welcoming Light when it is our time to cross that glorious Threshold into the Home which God has prepared for us from the beginning of the ages. It is this most Intimate Companion in our life who will fill us with the warmth of God’s Love for all eternity!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2b)
- “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:44-45a)
- “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
- “Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
- “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will.” (Ephesians 1:3-5)
- “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- “But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:9-10)
- “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:14)
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29a)
- “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” (Philippians 4:5a)
Prayer for the Day
“Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler,
Sacred Bond of the Father and the Son,
Hope of the afflicted,
descend into my heart and establish in it Your loving dominion.
“Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of Your Love
so that I may be wholly subject to You.
We believe that when You dwell in us,
You also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son.
“Deign, therefore, to come to me,
Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy.
Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering.
Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me.
“You love the humble and resist the proud.
Come to me, Glory of the living, and Hope of the dying.
Lead me by Your grace
that I may always be pleasing to You. Amen.”Saint Augustine of Hippo