Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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OPENING PRAYER

In the name of the Father,

and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Ten Commandments

1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

The Great Commandment

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Lk 10:27

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

COLLECT

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that, always pondering spiritual things,

we may carry out in both word and deed

that which is pleasing to you.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one god, for ever and ever.

READING I

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LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,

Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:

Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.

Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,

do not incur sin because of him.

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I am the LORD.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”1 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”2 The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:

The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.3

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”4

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”5

CCC 2811 In spite of the holy Law that again and again their Holy God gives them – “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” – and although the Lord shows patience for the sake of his name, the people turn away from the Holy One of Israel and profane his name among the nations.6 For this reason the just ones of the old covenant, the poor survivors returned from exile, and the prophets burned with passion for the name.

1 Mt 22:36.

2 Mt 22:37-40; cf. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.

3 Rom 13:9-10.

4 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

5 Rom 13:8-10.

6 Ezek 20:9, 14, 22, 39; cf. Lev 19:2.

APPLICATION

“You shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” This command given by God to the Israelites seems at first sight impossible of fulfillment for weak, human nature. God is holiness itself, he is holy by his nature, which is divine, while man, even the best of men, seems inclined to unholiness or evil by his very nature. But God did not command the Israelites to be as holy as he is–that would be an impossibility. What he does give them is the reason why they should be as holy as men can be. He is the God of holiness, the God of all perfection, they are his chosen ones. They should therefore strive to achieve such human perfection as would make them worthy of the holy state he has planned for them, namely, adopted sonship.

This same command holds for all men still. We Christians should find it much easier to fulfill, since the Incarnation, which was only very vaguely revealed to the Israelites, has taken place in our history–“before our eyes” as it were. Through the Incarnation, we know God’s real purpose for us men. He has made us his adopted sons, he has given us the example of Christ, his divine Son in true human nature, who as man lived a life of perfect holiness, perfect obedience to his heavenly Father. With such an example, and with the clear understanding of what the end and purpose of our journey through life is, we should not find it so hard to strive to make ourselves worthy of the honor and the great future God has in store for us.

We are God’s adopted sons. There is an eternity of happiness awaiting us when we end our sojourn here below The Christian who is convinced of this truth, as every sincere Christian is, will not look on the command to be holy so much as a command, as a necessary preparation for what is to come, a preparation which he gladly undertakes. The bride-to-be who is told by her mother to prepare herself fittingly for her wedding-day would hardly call this a command. We are destined to be brides of Christ for all eternity. We are convinced of this, that is why we are Christians. Now then could we look on the necessary preparations for our wedding-day, the day of our judgment, as something onerous, something we dislike?

We have seen God’s love for us. The Incarnation shows a love which surpasses the wildest hopes or imagination of men. Would we be so mean and so ungrateful as to refuse the puny bit of human love which he asks of us in return? We know for certain what future God has planned for us and earned for us through the God-man Christ–an eternity of happiness with God in heaven. Who would be so foolish, so forgetful of his own best interest, as to let the trifling, fleeting, unsatisfying things of this earth prevent him from reaching such a happy, unending future?

God’s call to us to be holy is really not a command but the kind and loving advice of an infinitely loving Father.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

and all my being, bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,

heals all your ills.

He redeems your life from destruction,

crowns you with kindness and compassion.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Not according to our sins does he deal with us,

nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

As far as the east is from the west,

so far has he put our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

READING II

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COR 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,

and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;

for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.

If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,

let him become a fool, so as to become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,

for it is written:

God catches the wise in their own ruses,

and again:

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

that they are vain.

So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,

Paul or Apollos or Cephas,

or the world or life or death,

or the present or the future:

all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 797 “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”1 “To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members.”2 The Holy Spirit makes the Church “the temple of the living God”:3

Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the “Gift of God” has been entrusted. .. In it is in her that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God. .. For where the Church is, there also is God’s Spirit; where God’s Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace.4

1 St. Augustine, Sermo 267, 4: PL 38, 1231D.

2 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.

3 2 Cor 6:16; cf. 1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:21.

4 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 24, 1: PG 7/1, 966.

APPLICATION

Today these words of St. Paul call on each one of us to stop and think of the divine gift God gave us when he made us Christians. We know where we come from, we know where we are going. God created us–be it through evolution or directly, it matters not–and it is to God that we owe the fact that we are here and now on this planet. But great though the gift of earthly life is, it would be, without the hope of a future life, a source of unhappiness for any thinking man. If after all my striving, all my endeavors, all my attempts to collect all the pleasures, wealth and happiness that this life can give, I were convinced that I would end forever in a hole in the ground, in a few years’ time, what a cloud of unhappiness would hang over even my happiest day!

But thanks to the divine gift of faith, I know that my few years on this earth are only a period given me to prepare for my future. I know that my earthly death is not the end but the beginning of my real life–a life that will never again end. What a consoling, what an uplifting thought this is, not only in my hours of suffering or trouble but in my moments of greatest happiness. I can see in them a foretaste of what is to come, as I can and should see in my sufferings the divine medicine which will one day bring me back to eternal health.

We have the true wisdom; we know the real truths. Let the world-wise wear out their strength collecting this world’s empty packages; let the neo-pagans keep on burying God and straining all their nerves to build a heaven on earth; we know the true value of this world’s goods; we know where the true, lasting heaven is, and please God it is there we are going.

But to get there we must never forget that we are God’s temple, as St. Paul tells us today. We must keep that temple pure and holy. We belong to God; we are his adopted sons. Let us strive every day of our lives to be worthy of this gratuitous divine honor. We could forfeit and lose this privilege–others have done so before us. God forbid that any of us should find himself among their number when he is called from this life.

GOSPEL

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MT 5:38-48

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, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

When someone strikes you on your right cheek,

turn the other one as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,

hand over your cloak as well.

Should anyone press you into service for one mile,

go for two miles.

Give to the one who asks of you,

and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

You have heard that it was said,

You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies

and pray for those who persecute you,

that you may be children of your heavenly Father,

for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,

and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only,

what is unusual about that?

Do not the pagans do the same?

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

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021917.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”1 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.2 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father’”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.3

CCC 1693 Christ Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father,4 and always lived in perfect communion with him. Likewise Christ’s disciples are invited to live in the sight of the Father “who sees in secret,”5 in order to become “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”6

CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”7 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.8

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”9

CCC 1933 This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.10 Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one’s enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy.

CCC 1968 The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure,11 where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity.12

CCC 2013 “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”13 All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”14

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that. .. doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.13

CCC 2054 Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter. He preached a “righteousness [which] exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees”16 as well as that of the Gentiles.17 He unfolded all the demands of the Commandments. “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill.’. .. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”18

CCC 2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,”19 and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.20 He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.21

CCC 2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “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.”22

CCC 2443 God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: “Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you”; “you received without pay, give without pay.”23 It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones.24 When “the poor have the good news preached to them,” it is the sign of Christ’s presence.25

CCC 2828 “Give us”: The trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”26 He gives to all the living “their food in due season.”27 Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.

CCC 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”28 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.29 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.30

CCC 2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies,31 transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.32

1 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.

2 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.

3 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.

4 Cf. Jn 8:29.

5 Mt 6:6.

6 Mt 5:48.

7 Rom 5:10.

8 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.

9 1 Cor 13:4-7.

10 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.

11 Cf. Mt 15:18-19.

12 Cf. Mt 5:44,48.

13 LG 40 # 2.

14 Mt 5:48.

15 LG 40 # 2.

16 Mt 5:20.

17 Cf. Mt 5:46-47.

18 Mt 5:21-22.

19 Mt 5:21.

20 Cf. Mt 5:22-39; 5:44.

21 Cf. Mt 26:52.

22 Mt 5:44-45.

23 Mt 5:42; 10:8.

24 Cf. Mt 25:31-36.

25 Mt 11:5; cf. Lk 4:18.

26 Mt 5:45.

27 PS 104:27.

28 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.

29 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.

30 Eph 4:32.

31 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.

32 Cf. 2 Cor 5:18-21; John Paul II, DM 14.

APPLICATION

The lesson we have to learn from today’s gospel hardly needs any emphasizing. We must, if we are truly Christian, forgive those who offend or injure us. We must love all men, whether they be friends or enemies. G. K. Chesterton says : “We are commanded to love our neighbors and our enemies; they are generally the same people.” This is very true for all of us. It is very easy for me to love (in a theoretical way) all Japanese, Chinese, Russians and most Europeans–they never come in contact with me and never tread on my corns. But it is my neighbors, those among whom I live and work, who are liable to injure me and thus become my enemies.

Charity begins at home, because it is here that it can and should be learned and practiced. It is first and foremost necessary for Christian peace in the home. Husband and wife must learn to understand and tolerate each other’s imperfections and faults. If one offends in what the other would regard as something serious, the offended one should not demand an apology but should show forgiveness before the other has humbly to apologize. No two persons in the world, not even identical twins, can agree on all things, so it is vain and unrealistic to expect even one’s married partner to agree with one in all points. Christian charity alone can cover the multitude of faults of both partners.

If there is peace and harmony between husband and wife, as there will be if both are truly charitable, the children will learn too to be understanding and forgiving. Such a home will be a truly happy home even if it has little of the world’s riches.

Our charity must spread from the home to our neighbors–to all those with whom we have contact. It is easy to get on with most people, but in every neighborhood and in every village or town there will always be those who are difficult. There will be the dishonest, the tale-bearers, the quarrelsome, the critic of everyone and everything. It is when we have dealings with such people that all our Christian charity is necessary. Most likely we will never be able to change their ways of acting, but charity will enable us to tolerate their faults and will move us to pray for their eternal welfare.

Life for many, if not for most people, has many dark, gloomy and despairing moments. The man or woman who is moved by true Christian charity can bring a beam of sunshine, a ray of hope, into the lives of these people. Fr. Faber in a booklet on kindness has a poem which we could all learn and practice with great profit for ourselves and for a neighbor in need of kindness. He says:

“It was but a sunny smile,

And little it cost in the giving,

But it scattered the night like the

morning light

And made the day worth living.

It was but a kindly word,

A word that was lightly spoken,

Yet not in vain for it chilled the pain

Of a heart that was nearly broken.

It was but a helping hand,

And it seemed of little availing,

But its clasp was warm, it saved from

harm

A brother whose strength was failing.”

Try the sunny smile of true love, the kindly word of Christian encouragement, the helping hand of true charity, and not only will you brighten the darkness and lighten the load of your brother but you will be imitating in your own small way the perfect Father of love who is in heaven.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Commandments

The whole of man is required for the knowledge of God – understanding, will, and heart. In practice this means that we cannot know God unless we are prepared to accept his will, to take it as the yardstick and the orientation for our lives. In still more practical terms, that means that living in accordance with the commandments is a part of belonging to the pilgrim fellowship of faith, the fellowship of those traveling toward God. That is not a heteronomous rule being imposed upon man. It is in assenting to the will of God that our being made truly similar to God is actually effected, and we become what we are: the image of God. And because God is love, that is why the commandments, in which his will is made known, are the essential variations of the single theme of love. They are the practical rules of love for God, for my neighbor, for creation, for ourselves. And because again, there exists in Christ the entire assent to God’s will, the full stature of being in God’s image; that is why living in accordance with love and within the will of God is following Christ, moving toward him and walking together with him.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Contrition

My God, I am sorry for my sins.

In choosing to sin, and failing to do good,

I have sinned against you and your Church.

I firmly intend, with the help of your Son,

to do penance and to sin no more.

Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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