PASTOR’S CORNER

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

THE GOSPEL           Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.” 

Making His Compassion Real

I recently read a true story about Frank who was a member for many years of St. Ignatius Parish in Tallahassee, Florida.  He was the head usher at the 9:00 morning Sunday Mass.  He seemed happy and affable and extremely generous with his time to the parish.  One Sunday Frank came up to parish priest and told him that he wanted to apologize for his part in any bad feelings there may have been between them.  The priest was shocked because he never felt any negativity coming from him.  Frank told the priest that he had not always been the most supportive of him.  And he went on to say that it was really important that he apologize.  The priest realized that something was going on within him, and so he accepted his apology and I gave him a hug.

Later on the priest found out that for the past two weeks Frank had been seeking out anyone with whom he felt at odds with and setting matters straight.  It was not a matter of who was right or wrong.  It was a matter of Christian charity and forgiveness.  Frank had been to his doctor for a full physical because he felt that his life was ending.  The doctor told him that everything seemed fine, yet that night Frank sat down in his recliner and passed away. 

Other people like Frank somehow know their death is imminent.  But how Frank approached death was impressive.  He was determined to die at peace with everyone in his life, which is a grace given by God to make amends in this life.  Frank understood today’s Gospel reading.

Perhaps nothing is more difficult then that the teachings of today’s Gospel.  “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  It is much easier to avoid sexual immorality than it is to avoid hatred, particularly when we have been hurt.  Hatred is destroying the world.  To follow Jesus demands that we fight off hatred in the world, beginning with that anger within our hearts and minds. 

We are told: “”Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Frank really had it right.  He wanted to be forgiven by God for the sins of his life, so he went about finding those whom he had to forgive as well as those whom he owed an apology. Jesus says to us, “the measure with which your measure will in return be measured to you.”  This means that if our forgiveness is limited, so also will be God’s mercy.  If our forgiveness is complete, so also will be God’s mercy.  

Anger and hatred only destroy, and they destroy the one who is angry, the one who hates.  God does not want us to be miserable.  He wants us to live and die in His love.  We pray today for the courage to allow His mercy and forgiveness to transform the world.

Fr. Tom