Thursday, February 20, 2014

"But I say to you, love your enemies"


The Gospel text for this Sunday continues with Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount. Christ is not finished. This Sunday He says His people must think not of their rights but of their duties as His followers. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

"Love your Enemies"

There is something within us that believes that real justice is in the law of talons: an eye for an eye. In reality, we would rather live in an Old Testament world - a world without Christ - than live in a world where we are expected to sacrifice our desire for vengeance to the Lord's command to love our enemies.

Perhaps that is why the most difficult words we pray today and every day, explains Fr. Joseph Pellegrino, are those words found in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been tried and found difficult. Christianity is a radical way of life. Father Cusick tells us that only the Christian, through the demands of his faith, forgives and prays for his enemies, which Christ teaches in today's Gospel.

But, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio asks, does Jesus want really us to be doormats, suckers who allow ourselves to be taken advantage of by every bully, dictator and gangster that comes down the pike? Not quite, explains Fr. John Foley, S. J. He says Jesus offers us instead a deep insight into the human heart and into the laws that govern it.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS elaborates further that Jesus is not saying that we ought to allow ourselves to be abused. We should retain the moral high ground and rise above the fray. This, therefore, is not so much about inviting further injury as refraining from retaliation, not perpetuating a disagreement. Turning the other cheek, college student Stephen Chanderbhan points out, can truly help bring people towards God.

Love: Unconditional, Uncompromising, Unlimited, Indiscriminate

Jesus practiced what He preached. He both forgave people who crucified Him and made excuses for them. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But, Fr. James Gilhooley explains, Christ is not finished. This Sunday Jesus preaches that His people must think not of their rights but of their duties as His followers. They must be concerned not with benefits but responsibilities. He demands love based wholly upon the nature of God who loves without limits. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. says this means loving in the way the heavenly Father loves – unconditionally, uncompromisingly, unlimitedly, indiscriminately.

In the end, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, the acid-test for Christian orthodoxy is something more demanding, something that lies closer to the heart of what is most unique and novel within Jesus. It is His call to love our enemies, to not give back in kind, to wish good and do good to those who are unkind to us.

“Be Holy, For I, the Lord, Your God, Am Holy”

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that the Scripture readings for Sunday issue three calls to us to be holy as the Lord our God is holy; to not deceive ourselves with the wisdom of this age; and to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Each person who hears this Gospel must decide whether or not to trust Jesus when he says that an apparently foolish act of love is stronger than any act of evil.

Jesus' way of non-resistance to the evil man is not dreamy idealism. Fr. Phil Bloom says it is part of His call to a complete love - a perfect love that includes even our enemies. We cannot achieve that love on our own power, but only by his grace. If we live in the wisdom of Jesus, says Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B., we can be certain that we are children of the heavenly Father because love is the nature of divine life.

Prayer, Faith & Apps

Dr. Peter Kreeft says the three most precious ideas he has ever discovered all concern the love of God. Check out his list. It could spell a discovery in your life as well. And it is just such a rebirth that one Afghani Christian is willing to die for in this story three years ago about awesome faith. He is Christian and father of six, is imprisoned and scheduled to die. His crime? He believes Christ is his Savior. And he is scheduled to die because of it. No defense lawyer will take his case for fear of retribution. And he has been told that if he renounces Christ things, would go easier. But he doesn’t.

Now here's an important question. Is it a sin not to pray every day? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf received this question from a reader who found this tidbit in the iPhone Catholic confession app. And the good father agreed with the app that it is indeed a sin against the first commandment. Read more about it here.Speaking of the iPhone, Fr. Jack McLain asserts that there are truly plenty of Catholic-centric uses for such devices. When his Jesuit confrere asked him to prove it, he combed through Apple’s App Store and found the best Catholic apps he could. Here's his list.

Bible, Genesis & the Eucharist

Rev. Robert Barron says he's continually amazed how often the “problem” of Genesis comes up in his work of evangelization and apologetics. People struggle with the seemingly bad science that is on display in the opening chapters of the first book of the Bible. How can anyone believe that God made the visible universe in six days, etc? He offers ideas on the proper way to read the Bible so it all makes sense.

As a young man, author Brant Pitre had difficulties explaining the Holy Eucharist to his Protestant friends. Now a professor of sacred scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, he released a new book called Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. He discusses a few of the startling and fascinating aspects of Judaism in the first century, and how directly they speak to and enhance our experience of Holy Communion.

Parenting Love and Dentyne Gum

Judith Costello wrote that we parents need to find a balance between supporting our children as they try out new things, and keeping them safe. Children need both the boundaries and the options. And they need our prayers for those times when we can’t be present. This is a must read for all parents.

And then Jake Frost writes "Collision With a Dentyne Truck - Love Lessons in Gum." Imagine the scene. A businessman heading home to his wife and chilkdren strides briskly through an airport. Coming upon one of those airport convenience stores with piratical prices, he stops, turns inside, and purchases a dozen packs of Dentyne gum. You'll have to read the rest of it to see what he does after.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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