7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (19th February)

Readings: Lev:19:1-2,17-18
1 Cor: 3:16-23
Matt: 5:38-48

In the readings for this seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are encouraged to strive for holiness “for I the Lord, your God, am Holy.” But God lays down the pathway to holiness for the Israelites and for us. “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.” Why? For love triumphs over all. “So love your neighbor as yourself.” We have been called to imitate the Lord’s holiness. The mark of this true holiness is to be holy as God is holy through love for one another.
Jessica Powers states how we can show this love, in her poem, “My Heart Ran Forth.” She writes:-
My heart ran forth on little feet of music
To keep the new commandment.
…My little children,
love one another; so my heart would sing.
…Love has its proper soil, its native land;
its first roots fastened on the near-at-hand.

The near-at-hand for me are the people I come in contact with on a daily basis – my community, the children, faculty and staff at school where I minister, and those
who accidentally, by the grace of God, cross my path for whatever reason.

At school this year our mantra is “I’m a Temple of my God” – This is Paul’s question to the Corinthians in our second reading. “Do you not know you are the temple of God?”
Each morning after Morning Prayer and Assembly our children sing these words and are encouraged to live them out each day.

“I’m a Temple of my God,
And God’s Spirit lives in me.
I’m adorned with the Precious stones of Mercy,
And God’s Spirit lives in me.
The gold of Compassion shines around me,
And God’s Spirit lives in me.
And the jewels of God’s Goodness sparkle through me,
And God’s Spirit lives in me.”

What a difference one could make in a situation if one was conscious of his or her own precious stones of Mercy, Compassion and God’s Goodness. Are we not adorned with these jewels to pass them on! Perhaps we may be graced with another’s in return.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus’ call to holiness challenges us to “go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”

If, as Jessica Powers suggests, that love has its first roots fastened on the near-at-hand, our challenge in the scripture readings this week is to answer God’s call to holiness “where we are planted”. Can I go the extra mile, share my love and compassion with my local community in New Orleans who have been devastated by the Tornado which touched down recently, only blocks away from our school? Can I go out of my comfort zone to lend a listening ear or a helping hand where it might be needed?

God, may your spirit of gratitude, love, peace and forgiveness be with us in our thoughts, words and actions this week. Help us to share our jewels with those we encounter. Amen.

Therese Lenehan O.P.

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