Readings & Homily Sunday, 19th February

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Readings Sunday, 19 February 2023


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Readings and Antiphons on p. 846 of the Daily Missal.

Entrance Antiphon.

O Lord, I trust in your merciful love, let my heart rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me.

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2.17-18

A reading from the Book of Leviticus.

And the Lord said to Moses,
“Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel,
you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart,
but you shall reason with your neighbour,
lest you bear sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge
against the sons of your own people,
but you shall love your neighbour as yourself:
I am the Lord.”

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103:1-2.3-4.8 & 10.12-13 (R. 8a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and never forget all his benefits.

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion,

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults.

As far as the east is from the west,
so far from us does he remove our transgressions.
As a father has compassion on his children,
the Lordʼs compassion is on those who fear him.

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy him.
For God’s temple is holy,
and that temple you are.

Let no one deceive himself.
If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age,
let him become a fool so that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.
For it is written,
“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
and again,
“The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
So let no one boast of men.
For all things are yours,
whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world
or life or death or the present or the future,
all are yours; and you are Christ’s;
and Christ is God’s.

The Word of the Lord.

Please stand for the Gospel.

Alleluia, Alleluia.
Whoever keeps Christ’s word, in him truly love for God is perfected.
Alleluia.

Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples,
“You have heard that it was said,
‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.
But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek,
turn to him the other also;
and if anyone would sue you and take your coat,
let him have your cloak as well;
and if anyone forces you to go one mile,
go with him two miles.
Give to him who begs from you,
and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said,
‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you,
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brothers and sisters,
what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Communion Antiphon.

All your wonders I will recount. I will rejoice in you and be glad, and sing psalms to your name, O Most High.

Homily

Three weeks ago, we started our reflections on the Sermon on the Mount. We remember Jesus saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Two weeks ago, Jesus called his disciples to be “light for the world.”

  • In the history of our church, right up to the present time, we have had some brilliant lights – people we call “Saints.”
  • Look around our church.
    • In the side chapel, there is a window for St Paul of the Cross.
    • In 1720, St Paul Daneo founded the Congregation of the Passion, whose members combined devotion to Christ’s passion with preaching to the poor, and rigorous penances. Known as the Passionists, they add a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ’s passion among the faithful.
    • The founders of our parish, Fr Ronan Byrne, Fr Adrian Kelly, and Fr Kieran McIvor were Passionists who saw their ministry inspired by St Paul of the Cross.

Look as well in the side chapel and we see a window for St Angela Merici.

  • St Angela founded the first teaching congregation of women in the Church – the Ursulines. During the religious conflicts of the 16th century, Angela Merici, a visionary and practical woman living in Brescia, Italy, founded a company of women to renew the church from within. Angela showed women a new way to dedicate their lives to God in contemplation and service of others.
  • St Angela’s deep Christian faith, love, and courage are still inspirational for both the Ursuline sisters as well as all who are educated by them.

They are saints who have a connection with our parish. I am sure you have your favourites.

  • Maybe it is St Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan Friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz.
  • Or St Francis of Assisi. He recognized creation as another manifestation of the beauty of God and is the patron of ecology. He lived the gospel life in the charity of Jesus, perfectly expressed in the Eucharist.

When you look at their lives and the lives of other saints, it’s hard to believe that we are all cut from the same cloth – that they were humans like us.

  • We display their portraits and statues in churches, name churches and schools after them.
  • They were and still are, bright lights, shining stars.

But their outstanding lives, and public recognition, don’t let us off the hook.

  • We can’t say, “Well, I’m no saint like Francis of Assisi.
    • I can’t live his radical poverty in the 21st century..
  • Or, I’m no Angela Merici, ready to start a religious order and build schools.
  • While we may not be stellar, brilliant lights in the world, nevertheless Jesus still would have us be light in the particular part of the world we inhabit.
  • We cannot make an excuse and be a hidden Christian – hiding away from the world.

Some people feel quite content with their lives.

  • They say things like, “I’m a good enough person.
    • I’m nice to everyone.
    • I try to help my neighbours in need.”
  • But Jesus sets a high goal for us.
  • After spelling out what’s expected of his followers he concludes with, ” So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We aren’t going to be like Francis of Assisi and go off to work among lepers.

  • But wherever we find ourselves, at home, in our neighbourhood, on our sports fields, at the office, in the shopping mall, each of us has a vocation to reflect God’s perfection/goodness.
  • The goodness of God and the life of Jesus must shine through us in our surroundings.
  • We are followers of Jesus and children of God.
  • We can’t hide who we are.
  • Jesus calls us to live as his followers, not just with friends and in hospitable surroundings, but even with our enemies.

Jesus has really challenging words for us today:

  • “You have heard that it was said,
    ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
    But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.
    But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek,
    turn to him the other also;
  • By no means does God expect us to be weak and treated as doormats
  • Quite the contrary:
    • As we heard today – God wants to make us strong enough.
    • We are so convinced of God’s love for us,
    • that our first response to injury doesn’t have to be revenge.
  • God wants us to be so secure in God’s love, that we can have enough detachment from material things to put relationships first in our lives.

In some families children look so much like a parent, or both parents, that outsiders seeing them together, might say,

  • “Is that your daughter? She looks just like you.”
  • Or, “your son is a chip off the old block.”

If we are children of our God, whom Jesus calls “perfect,” then some of that perfection should rub off on us.

  • Thus, because we have God’s very life in us, we will show mercy; be forgiving; demonstrate generosity.
  • And surprise of surprises… We will do good even to our enemies, loving them the way God does.
  • Because, as Jesus says today, God makes the sun rise on the bad as well as the good, God causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

We have plenty of evidence that ordinary Christians can live holy lives and do extraordinary things.

  • We probably can name some of them ourselves – people we know and admire.
  • In our own Archdiocese, we are putting forward Domitilla and Danny Hyams for beatification and ultimately, canonization.
  • Danny and Domitilla were the founders of ‘Little Eden,’ a non-profit Society dedicated to the care of persons with intellectual disabilities. They also provided an inspiring example of their committed family life and marriage, raising their six children. Both strove for holiness by living out the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
  • They imbued their ordinary daily activities with selflessness love, serving the most marginalised of society.
  • We can look to the example of their holiness today.

“Be as perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.”

  • How can we live up to Jesus’s teachings?
  • On our own, we can’t, no matter how hard we try.
  • But we are not on our own, we are God’s children and are in God’s loving hands.
  • We depend on our God to nourish and shape us more and more into God’s children and disciples of Jesus.

That’s why we come here, to church.

  • Each week we pray for ourselves and one another for the help to live fully the life Jesus calls us to;
  • Each week we want to receive the powerful grace of Holy Communion.
  • We strive to live a life that reflects the presence of God in the world:
    • doing what God has always done – loving, healing and forgiving.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said, “For if you love only those who love you,

what recompense will you have?

Do not tax collectors do the same?…

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reflection:

We can see that Jesus is not interested in half-hearted, or part-time disciples. We can’t be good Christians only at home and when we gather at church. There are no boundary lines for Christian love, because God has not drawn boundaries around God’s love. God, not the world, is the standard for our love. To love in God’s way we will need to pray earnestly for help from God.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What touched me in the Word of God today?
  • Whom do you find the most difficult to love?
  • Have you thought about asking God to help you love that person?

+++++++++++++++++

One day a truck driver stopped at a restaurant for dinner and ordered a steak. Before he could eat it, in walked a motorcycle gang, with dirty leather jackets and long, unkempt hair. They took the man’s steak, cut it into six pieces, and ate it. The driver said nothing. He simply paid the bill and walked out. One of the gang members said, “That man couldn’t talk. He didn’t say a word.” Another one said, “He couldn’t fight, either; he didn’t lift a hand.” A waiter added, “I would say that he couldn’t drive either. On his way out of the parking lot, he ran over six motorcycles crushing all of them.” — Something in us loves that story, because we like retaliation. But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus prescribes forgiving love as the Christian trump card.

The great sculptor, Michelangelo, was at work on one of his statues when a friend called on him and said – “I can’t see any difference in the statue since I came here a week ago. Have you not been doing any work all the week?” “Yes! I have been working the whole week along, “said the sculptor – “See, I have retouched this part, softened this feature, strengthened this muscle, and put more life into that limb.” “But those are only trifles,” said the friend. —  “True, “said Michelangelo, “but trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” Today’s Gospel passage concludes with Jesus saying, “Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” 

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