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Theology for the common man

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time A Year

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy,” “you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” These words we hear today in the liturgy of the word serves as a motto for today’s readings. As we can notice, the motto comes from the Old Testament and speaks about the holiness of God and because of that, about the pattern of holiness for a man. The Book of Leviticus gives us even the way how to reach that holiness to be closer to God: through the love of neighbor. The weakness of this pattern however consists on the complementing of this command; which is a hatred of enemies. And although the commandment reminds that a Jew “shall nor bear hatred for his brother and sister in his heart, and do not incur sin because of him”, an enemy was always in a lost position because the commandment concerns only the Jewish-brothers. And the situation was even worse when they see pagan enemies or other people that Jews scorned; the Scripture of the Old Testament states to hate those kinds of people. Jesus Christ confirms that logic of the Old Testament showing instead a novelty of his teaching: “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.” With his authority Jesus, as God - Yahweh before, institutes a new path to God: love of God and neighbor, and in the last case he means every man, and especially the one who is abandoned, and even an enemy, because such procedure could be the only way of his conversion. The logic of Jesus is simple: “God makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” In addition, a paying with goodness and well-wishing, means, with the same measure as Pharisees and tax collectors, and even pagans do, is not a big deal and not merit to any reward, not to mention heaven. The high quality of life worthy of heaven is in an ability to forgive one's enemy as Christ forgave on the cross to his enemies, or as God the Father shows his mercy to all sinners. There is nothing strange in Jesus’ words: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”