Thoughts from Father Shields – February 23

Today’s readings can make us very uncomfortable

(Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 and Matthew 5:38-48)

love your neighborThe readings today continue to expand and stretch the mentality and understanding of the Jewish Community of the “law”, their “neighbor” and “themselves”. Leviticus called the Israelites to be “holy”, to be like God in loving, and to be different from those around them…that is, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Leviticus is challenging the people to “go beyond” the norm, to extend themselves to those beyond their “circle of family and friends” via LOVE.

And almost as if on cue, Paul tells the Corinthians in the second reading “Why” this is necessary. We along with the Corinthians are reminded that we are the “temple of God”… that the “Spirit dwells in us”. We are imbued with a dignity from God that warrants respect (love) for others and ourselves!  Paul goes even further in saying that if we can not see and appreciate this fact, then we are indeed foolish.

Matthew takes us, once again, beyond the understanding commonly taught by the Pharisees and Sadducees, to understand that our love is meant for our enemies as well as our friends. Matthew continues to move the early Christian community from comfortableness with their understanding of the law to a much deeper, fuller and encompassing grasp of Christ’s fulfillment of that law.

You and I listen to the readings today, and prayerfully reflect on how well we are doing (or not doing!) in seeing all as our brothers & sisters…as “temples of God”…! Are you and I prejudiced with regards to any group/individual? Do you and I look for “justice” when it is actually “revenge” that we seek? Do we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced by the needs of others?…friends?…enemies?

Today’s readings can make us very uncomfortable. There may be a tendency to “water down” the message. But, the fact is we are: “holy” of God…! May the people that we meet this week notice that reality in us.

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