Cycle C – Homily – 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 20 February 2022
Lectionary I Lectionary II
1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23 Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8-10, 12-13 Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40
1 Corinthians 15:45-49 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Luke 6:27-38 Luke 6:27-38
As you can see from the citations above, our Lectionaries differ today on the first reading and on the Psalm. We are not going to worry about that now. However, for a personal spiritual exercise this week, I encourage you to go over these differing readings – side-by-side – and to note the similarities and differences between the themes and the focal points. That is always a good way of gaining insight into the various Biblical passages.
Anyway, for today’s homily, let us concentrate on the Gospel, which is the same in both Lectionaries. This is a critical living passage. That is, living because it is about everyday life. In many ways, this Gospel is a “how to” pattern for life. It is a summation of the message of Jesus. Really, everything we need to know to live according to the righteousness we are called to can be found right here in today’s Gospel. It is a culmination and summation of the Sermon on the Plain, the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, and everything Jesus says in John 13.
I like to think of this Gospel as The 17 Guideposts to Good Living, The 17 Roads to Peace and Happiness, and The 17 Arrows pointing ultimately to God. This Gospel is a series of positive statements – and strong ones at that! – about what we should do. These points, these roads, heading to our eternal destination are not admonitions, they are positive statements – almost if/then statements.
Originally I had thought I would begin this homily with a few of the pithy quotes from this Gospel. The problem was that every line of the Gospel – every one of the approximately 17 lessons stands out as significant. Every phrase is worthy of a book or at least a major treatise. These modica of profound wisdom really tell us everything we need to know for right living. We’ve heard them all before. However, most of us have put them on the back burner – not taken them off the stove but definitely put them where they won’t be our brain’s primary consideration.
This is a wonderful Gospel. It is a litany of “How to” lessons, rather than a series of “Thou shalt not” lessons.
I‘ve copied a few of the sayings from today’s Gospel. Jesus says (Scriptural quotes or paraphrases from Luke)…and I’ve followed that by a very brief reflection. I encourage us all – me included! – to spend some time meditating on the impact of each of these illuminations in our own lives. Do the same with the others listed in this Scripture passage.
6:27 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
It is relatively easy to love our far away enemies, those on the other side of the planet, those we don’t have to think about every day. But, what about our up-close enemies? What about those whose egregious acts are really just minor transgressions on our own personal radars? Or those who just “bug us” in our daily lives?
Going along with that is doing good to those who hate us. We all need to make a conscious effort to practice this virtue. We may have to start slowly – maybe just a pleasant smile at someone in our workplace we know doesn’t like us, or maybe a kind word about a cousin we vehemently disagree with on just about everything.
6:28 Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
This is a tough one. No one likes to be cursed. And, think of cursing in more general terms – not just someone standing up publicly and spewing expletives at you. What about the quiet nastinesses someone might throw at you. Those can be even more painful than the bodacious curses. When that happens, let us try to say – even if just under our breath – “God bless you!” and mean it. Pray for the abuser. Just ask God to help the person. Don’t give God instructions about how to do it.
6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
These three Guideposts are always tough. Notice, however, that each presents two ends of a spectrum. Do one end and you won’t have to worry about the other end. But, gosh, we all know how hard these are and we all know that none of us is perfect; not one of us can get everything right 100% of the time.
I think when it comes to judgment, we need to remember we are talking about judging the person and not judging the action and we need to remember the adage about walking a mile in another person’s moccasins. We never know the whole story; we cannot know the whole story. We need to let God do the judging. And let’s let God do the condemning too. That is not our job. We all know this but we all have trouble with it. The Twelve-Steppers have an appropriate saying here: Fake it ‘till you make it. We just need to keep trying.
Then we come to the one about forgiveness. This is clearly tough for major transgressions – as major crimes or personal losses. It is also tough for minor slights and fights., minor disagreements over points we are passionate about. How do we handle forgiveness when we cannot forgive – or maybe we are not yet emotionally ready to forgive?
We can always say something like this: “God, forgive John/Jane because I can’t. But with your guidance I am willing to learn. But for now, please do it for me.” God will do these things for us when we ask We don’t have to do everything by ourselves; God will do it for us when we are overwhelmed and we ask.
6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Did you know that this adage is found across time and space in every major religion, culture, and philosophical bend? There must be something to it. The point is so simple and yet it is so profound.
Did you notice that all of these Guideposts have to do with our relationships with each other? They are all about our relationship with our neighbor.
These Guidelines for right living are also about our relationship with God. Aren’t we told throughout Scripture that whatever we do to each other, we do to God? Let us see Christ in our brothers and sisters and let us follow these relationship guidelines toward a better relationship with each other and an ever more solid relationship with our God. And let us always remember that our God is our helpmate in all of this.
Dr. Roberta M. Meehan