This weekend we celebrate the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus presents the disciples with some of the challenging demands of discipleship. He tells them: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Most of us realize that our first inclination is not to love, do good to, or pray for those who are downright mean to us. Does Jesus know what he is asking of us? Well, surely, he does! He had enemies, people who hated him, and people who mistreated him. And what did he do? Jesus, the Son of God, treated them as God treats all of his children, with love, compassion, forgiveness, and the gift of prayer for their spiritual well-being. He expects no less of us. It may be difficult, but with the grace of God, we can strive to do likewise, knowing it demands sacrifice, “letting go” of hurt feelings, and embracing the “heart of Christ.” Jesus goes on in length in this Gospel passage by giving several examples of how disciples are to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Reflecting upon today’s Gospel passage moved me to reread last week’s Gospel passage, as it seemed to be reminiscent of the “blessings and woes” (in the Beatitudes). Today, Jesus is not only presenting instructions to the disciples, but also admonitions. They are: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” A very tall order, indeed, Jesus presents to all who are followers of Christ! This is certainly not modeled for us in society. It seems to be difficult not only to live these Christian values in our families, schools, neighborhoods, and places of employment, but also in our Church and our parishes. Sometimes, we need to step back and reflect upon what it means to be sons and daughters of God and what our heavenly Father expects of us. God is love and we are recipients and vessels of that love. Love is selfless and love is merciful. Three weeks ago, we took the time to reflect upon love as Saint Paul presented it to us in the first letter to the Corinthians. And now, this last Sunday of February, two weeks before Lent begins, we once again grapple with the true meaning of love. Just think of what the world might look like if all Christians took to heart and lived all that discipleship entails. What if people took a second look at us and said, “See how these Christians love one another?” – not just those who love them, but their enemies as well!” Perhaps evangelization begins with how we live out our discipleship each day, in any situation with which we are confronted, and in any person we encounter.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ