23RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
St. John Chrysostom, bishop & doctor
Psalter: Week 3 / (White)
Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 23-24
Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
1st Reading: 1 Cor 8:1b-7, 11-13
Regarding meat from the offerings to idols, we know that all of us have knowledge, but knowledge puffs up, while love builds. If anyone thinks that he has knowledge, he does not yet know as he should know, but if someone loves (God), he has been known (by God).
Can we, then, eat meat from offerings to the idols? We know that an idol is without existence and that there is no God but one. People speak indeed of other gods in heaven and on earth and, in this sense, there are many gods and lords. Yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from whom everything comes, and to whom we go. And there is one Lord, Christ Jesus, through whom everything exists, and through him, we exist.
Not everyone, however, has that knowledge. For some persons, who, until recently, took the idols seriously, that food remains linked to the idol, and eating of it stains their conscience, which is unformed.
Then, with your knowledge, you would have caused your weak brother or sister to perish, the one for whom Christ died. When you disturb the weak conscience of your brother or sister, and sin against them, you sin against Christ himself. Therefore, if any food will bring my brother to sin, I shall never eat this food, lest my brother or sister fall.
Gospel: Lk 6:27-38
But I say to you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favors to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.
But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For he is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”
For many people, the challenge of Jesus is the most difficult passage in the Gospel. It seems to express a way of life that is totally unrealistic and unattainable. We live today in a world of great violence, of terrorism, of violence and murder, of summary executions and extra-judicial killing. Where do Jesus’ words fit in? “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.” We may feel that we are unable to follow this teaching. We think it would only encourage those people to behave even worse. But Jesus is extending love to the enemy and the sinners. This is the core of Jesus’ teaching, which he himself lived. The Golden Rule which is often expressed as “Do not do to others what you would not want them do to you” is expressed positively by Jesus. This, in fact, is the love that God has for us. It is a an expression of unconditional love. God reaches out in merciful love to every single person without exception. God wills the fullest well-being of every single person.
To love as God loves is to focus more on the needs of others. What is hurting inside them that drives them to such behavior? We begin to ask why do they have to act in this way. We can only do this if we have a strong inner sense of security and self-acceptance and above all having ourselves experienced God’s prodigal love.
Daily Reflection 2018
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