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Scripture Reflection - February 19, 2017

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Love Your Neighbor

“O Lord I trust in your merciful love.

These words from the Entrance Antiphon characterize God’s message to us in today’s readings---love not hate. There are a plethora of recommendations in all of them to help us navigate through our imperfect world. God asks us through them to realize who we are.

Leviticus: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God am holy… You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm 103: “The Lord is kind and merciful.”

1 Corinthians 3: “You are the temple of God…the temple of God, which you are, is holy…the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”

Matthew: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.” In Living with Christ, Patricia Livingston gives us an interesting perspective and insight into “turning the other cheek”. At the time in the Gospel, left-handedness was considered evil, and one could only use a backhanded slap on those considered inferiors. “Striking an equal, a free man, with a backhand “ would be illegal.   “Hence Jesus’ message: if someone treats you as an inferior by backhanding you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek to them and challenge them to treat you as an equal, a form of nonviolent resistance.”

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…be perfect (blameless) just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Though difficult, I have experienced that praying for those who were “persecuting” me brought about some substantive change in those persons, as well as in me.

It is easy for some to be intolerable and intolerant in their behavior toward others, especially to those deemed unworthy of their respect. But Jesus tells us to respect all people. We are all children of God; we are all brothers and sisters. The three R's are not rage, retaliation, and revenge. There is only one r – RESPECT. Thus, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sister Beryl Herdt, OP

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