The social commandments are continued in this Sunday readings. The new standard of Jesus is much higher than the ancient Jewish way of “eye for eye and tooth for tooth”. Jesus challenges us to look again at the way we relate to one another
The next paragraph is an interesting one from the Book of Leviticus 19:18. “You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” The second part of this commandment, which is not in the written Law, is an Aramaic way of saying ‘you do not have to love your enemy.’ Let us remember that the language which Jesus spoke was Aramaic. Jesus changes these words when he urges us to pray for those who persecute us. Our God is a compassionate, forgiving and amazingly generous God who loves both the bad and the good lavishly and with an enduring love, irrespective of our deeds.
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We used to think that perfection was the way forward but in Luke’s gospel the word used is not perfection but compassion. This makes it a more achievable quality to emulate. Our present world longs for compassionate people who can reach out to others in need as Jesus did in the environment in which he lived.
Peoples of all cultures, of all religions and none, need kindness. As Philo of Alexandria said in the time of Jesus (25 AD): “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle”.
Our call today is to remember the love God has for each one of us and to respond generously by sharing that love with the lonely, the deprived, the homeless and all whom we meet throughout each day, reflecting back to them the love so generously given to each one of us – as put before us in the Book of Sirach (2:11): God is loving-kindness and compassion.
These are some quotations which invite us to ponder further during the season of Lent beginning this Ash Wednesday:
Is. 19:16: I have engraved your name on the palm of my hand.
Is. 41:9: You are my servant whom I have chosen.
Is. 43:1: I have called you by name, you are mine.
Is. 43:4: You are precious in my eyes and I love you.
Is. 43:10: You are my witness whom I have chosen and my servant.
Is. 49:3: You are my servant in whom I will be glorified.
Sr. Dympna Travers O.P.