February 19, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME –  CYCLE “A” –  2/19/17  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!   Peace and goodness to you this day!

Sometimes, it seems, that everything has its hardest part.  The hardest part of learning something new, is the discipline, practice, study, and time that it takes to learn something new.  It could be learning to drive, or learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instruments.  The hard part is always there.  The hardest part of saving money is not spending money on things that we want along the way, and not having to spend money on emergency situations that come up, where we have no choice.  It’s those unforeseen bills that make it most difficult to save.  The hardest part about losing weight is eating the right foods, the salads, the broccoli, and 5 ounce grilled chicken breast, and avoiding the bad foods, the ice cream, the French fries, and the chocolate cake, all the while getting enough exercise to burn the calories of the good foods that you are eating.  Sounds easy, right?  If God wanted to make it easy, He should have made broccoli taste and smell like French fries.  That I could have handled!

And of course, the hard of Christianity, is exactly what we get from our Gospel today:  We are to turn the other cheek.  We are to give to those who steal from us.  We are to give, and to lend, and to help, even those who aren’t going to pay us back, or do anything for us.  We are to love our enemies!  If these aren’t the most difficult challenges of Christianity, I don’t know what are.  Even the whole picking up that Cross thing, and following Jesus, sound easier than doing these things for our enemies!  My brothers and sisters, THIS is extreme Christianity.  We hear about extreme everything today.  There’s extreme sports.  There’s extreme cars. There’s extreme art, and music, and theater.  I looked down at my deodorant the other day, and right there on the side, it said “Extreme Deodorant”.  And I thought, do I smell that bad?  Make no mistake about it today, what Jesus is talking to us about, is extreme Christianity.  You can’t be this kind of Christian just by praying a couple of “Our Fathers” once a week!  This kind of love only comes from God.  He must be the source.  We must receive it from Him.  The good news, God wants to give us this kind of love and mercy.  He wants us to experience it in our own lives, and then be willing and able to share with others around us, most especially our enemies!  Sound impossible?  Not if Jesus is the source of it all!

Jesus is telling us today that the greatest response to any situation, any and all situations, is love!  Love is a direct imitation of the way that God treats us, His children – in His great mercy!  When we come to realize that our worthiness is NOT the cause of God’s loving us,  that His love and mercy are pure gift  –  that’s when our response has to be one of gratitude!   And that gratitude is what changes our relationships with others, even our enemies.  We have done nothing to earn God’s love and mercy.  And yet, He still loves us!  He hasn’t given up on us.  And He wants us back.  Quite honestly, it going to seem very odd to be kind to those who are unkind to us, but that’s exactly what we are called to do.  Living out the Gospel in this radical, extreme way, is absolutely essential to the spreading of the Good News!  We must strive for it, even when it is the hardest part of our Faith.  We also have to be very careful that while praying for others and trying to be kind to them, that this doesn’t mean that we have to endure on-going disrespect or abuse from others.  Even Christians need to learn to set appropriate boundaries which shield us from abusive and disrespectful behavior of some.  Some people we can’t change.  Only God can.

At the very end of this Gospel text, we hear Jesus tell us that we are to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  We know He is not literally calling us to be perfect.  This is impossible due to our human weakness and sin.  But it doesn’t mean that we don’t try, don’t strive to be the best that we can be, every single day.  We are to be generous to others.  We are to show mercy to those in need.  We are to work with the Grace of God and be transformed by God’s love.  Jesus never says that this would be easy.  In fact, maybe it really is the hardest part of being one of His followers.  But clearly, we are being asked to go the extra mile, to be extreme, when it comes to serving Him and building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.  With His help, we can do anything!

+ May God bless us this day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                                                      AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…                                                   Pray for us !!!