If someone insults you or tries to take advantage of you, how do you respond? Do you repay in kind? Jesus approached the question of just retribution with a surprising revelation of God's intention for how we should treat others, especially those who mistreat us. When Jesus spoke about God's law, he did something no one had done before. He gave a new standard based not just on the requirements of justice - giving each their due - but based on the law of grace, love, and freedom. The Old Testament is full of references to the command that we must be merciful: You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:18). If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21). Do not say, "I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done" (Proverbs 24:29). Let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults (Lamentations 3:30).
Jesus does something quite remarkable and unheard of. He transforms the law of mercy with grace, forbearance, and loving-kindness. Jesus also makes clear that there is no room for retaliation. We must not only avoid returning evil for evil, but we must seek the good of those who wish us ill. Do you accept insults, as Jesus did, with no resentment or malice? When you are compelled by others to do more than you think you deserve, do you insist on your rights, or do you respond with grace and cheerfulness? What makes a disciple of Jesus Christ different from everyone else? It is grace - treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated - with loving-kindness and mercy. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. The Lord Jesus suffered insult, abuse, injustice, and death on a cross for our sake. Scripture tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and guilt (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7, I John 1:7, Revelation 1:5). Since God has been merciful towards us through the offering of his Son, Jesus Christ, we in turn are called to be merciful towards our neighbor, even those who cause us grief and harm.
Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48)? Jesus' command seems to parallel two passages from the Old Testament Scriptures. The first is where God instructed Abraham to "be perfect/blameless" before God (Genesis 17:1). The original meaning of "perfect" in Hebrew and the Aramaic dialect which Jesus spoke is "completeness" or "wholeness" - "not lacking in what is essential." The second passage that seems to parallel Jesus' expression - "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect"- is the command that God gave to Moses and the people of Israel to "be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:2). God created each one of us in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27). That is why he calls us to grow in maturity and wholeness so we can truly be like him - a people who loves as he loves and who chooses to do what is good and to reject what is evil (Ephesians 4:13-16). God knows our sinfulness and weaknesses better than we do - and he assures us of his love, mercy, and help. That is why he freely gives us his power, strength, and gifts so that we may not lack anything we need to do his will and to live as his sons and daughters (2 Peter 1:3). Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to purify and transform you in the image of the Father that you may know and live in the joy and freedom of the Gospel. Servants of the Word, 2017
LENT 2017- Ash Wednesday is Wednesday March 1, 2017
Mass and distribution of ashes at 9:15 am, 1pm, (Elementary Schools attending), and 7:30pm.
Friday during Lent – Mass at 8am and 7pm followed by Stations of the Cross at 7:30pm
Knights of Columbus Annual Pancake Breakfast – Sat. Feb.25 & Sun. Feb.26
Meals will be served after all Masses. Pancakes, sausage, fruit cup, tea coffee and juice
Tickets available in the vestibule after all Masses, from the office during the week and at the door
Confirmation Reminder – Registration for Grade 7 Confirmation is Monday March 27th at 7:30pm in the parish hall. Please be sure to bring your child’s Baptismal Certificate to this meeting.
I hope you have a good week!Fr. Phil