Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

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 "… but I say to you"

 

Once again we hear those words “it was said to you of old… but I say to you”, and once again Jesus takes us beyond a simple rule to point us to the very root of good behaviour. And once again he turns the world’s values upside down. There is a natural inclination in decent people to treat others with the same respect and consideration that they themselves would like to receive. And yet we see so much around us that is just the opposite, from authority’s abuse of power, acts of war and terrorism, to more personal stories of greed, jealousy and hate. Our experience reveals a culture of tit-for-tat, of looking after those who look after you, of giving as good as you get – most often understood negatively!

 

What Jesus has to say is in stark contrast to the ways of the world: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly”. He does not suggest that we can go through life without enemies. We all have to face the unpleasant reality of negative and at times hurtful relationships. What Jesus does expect of us is something even more difficult than not having enemies: he asks us quite simply to love them – to reflect in our relationships the non-discriminating love shown by God who “causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike”.

 

“To love” in this context does not suggest that we must develop feelings of affection for someone we dislike; it means to wish the wellbeing of others whether we like them or not. This is not a matter of feeling but of choosing, a deliberate act of will to desire the true good of the other person, unilaterally and unconditionally. It is a daunting invitation until we remember: Christ lives on in us and empowers us with his Spirit to walk in his Way. It is only in that same Spirit he can invite us to “be perfect as your Father is perfect”.