7th Sunday of Ordinary Time Reflection
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy Parish, Franklin, MA
This week’s readings are about how we are called to be holy and explain very simply what being holy is.
Being holy all revolves around LOVE, MERCY, KINDNESS, COMPASSION, CHARITY, FORGIVENESS and being flexible.
In our first reading from the book of LEVITICUS which is the book of laws, we hear these words; “You will not harbor hatred for your brother. You will reprove your fellow-countryman firmly and thus avoid burdening yourself with a sin. You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbor as yourself. I God have spoken.”
The Gospel repeats the same idea when it tells us to; “if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away. You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike.”
God expects us to be holy persons, which means we must not seek what is fashionable in the world, but must extend to every person we come across the same kind of love as Christ showed to all who came to him.
We need to worry about those who are hungry, homeless, unemployed, sick and reach out as best we can to help them, even if they have done something to hurt us or have shown us disdain.
This is certainly not easy and totally opposite the norms of society but it is possible if we turn to our creator and ask for the graces to be Holy and to emulate Christ, St. Francis, Mother Therese of Calcutta, Father Damien of Molokai, all of whom gave totally of themselves to work and live with the poor, the sick, lepers, all those who society usually distains and rejects.
Last Monday we celebrated Valentines day, a day that is supposed to be dedicated to lovers but many have no idea who St. Valentine was and why he is associated with that day. St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the second. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime.
Notice that Valentine was HELPING those who society had deemed unwelcome and unworthy of having their love committed in Marriage. This was an act of being HOLY.
To actually live a life of holiness is extremely difficult especially when today’s society is so self centered and consumed with acquiring material things, fame, power and wealth, all of which are opposite what being HOLY is about and a life style exactly like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were living and we know what happened to them for NOT living a holy life.
What we need to do is ask God for help and the prayer I find addresses the goal and attributes of Holiness is what we call THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS. Let me close this reflection by inviting you to say the PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS with me.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen