Tuesday, February 18, 2014

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

What does God want of us?  It’s a fairly common question for many people, especially during our most difficult times.  Yet amid the noise of our lives we usually forget that God has answered us, over and over again.  Let’s explore this week’s readings to hear what he says…
The Word for the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Matthew 5:38-48

Our first reading comes from the book of Leviticus… that book that falls right after Exodus which is essentially the second retelling of the Mosaic Law, only this time through priestly (Levite) perspective .  In this rather short passage, we are given two powerful commands.  First, God commands us to be holy.  What does he mean?  While the intervening passages (verses 2-16) provide some clarity through their retelling of the 10 commandments, the real clarity comes from our reading’s second command, “… love your neighbor as yourself.”  And as if God can hear your “why” coming before it makes it out of your mouth, he says, “I am the Lord.”  the ancient equivalent of “because I said so” from a parent to a child.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Why is this phrase so familiar?  Because as Christians we know this to be part of Jesus’ Great Commandment… the “Golden Rule.”  As we’ve been learning during this year with Matthew’s Gospel, however, most of what Jesus is teaching is nothing new.  We, like the Apostles and rest of Jesus’ contemporaries are asking that same age old question… “What does God want?”.  Expecting that Jesus will have something new to say, he simply reminds us of what God has always said.  We don’t need to learn anything new… we only need to learn to apply what he's already told us and recommit ourselves to it:  To love God and l love our neighbor.  “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
So why do we keep asking the question?  Is it because we didn’t hear the answer?  Or rather is it because we don’t like the answer and keep hoping for something different?  Something easier?  I think our second reading might help add some perspective to this…
Continuing with our study of Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we ourselves are Temples of God.  We are his creation and he dwells in us.  Jesus said to “be perfect”… a pretty tall order for us mere mortals, but Paul is telling us that we too have the power within us.  Paul goes on to remind us that those of us who think we have the answers are just kidding ourselves.  God has passed down his wisdom consistently through the generations, and it is this wisdom that we should follow.  He closed by reminding us that we all belong to Christ… not to each other, not to him or Cephas or Apollos, or the other community leaders, but to Christ.  We need to aim for the higher purpose, and through that, we get that much closer to the perfection God knows is within us.

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