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February 24, 2019

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday, Jesus continues his challenging Sermon on the Mount. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you ? Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.” Words like these are challenging! Many of us have grown up in a culture of independence and retaliation against those who harm us. Today’s Gospel reminds us that the way of the world is not necessarily the way of the disciple.

In many spiritual texts, saints describe the first stage of the spiritual life as mercenary love of God. That is, we love Him because he “pays” us with graces and good things. Consider for a moment, why do you do the good that you do? Take volunteering, for example. How often do we talk about the good feelings service evokes and how you “get so much more than you give.” This is still based on an attitude of return on our investment. Would we volunteer if we knew it was good to do, but we didn’t “feel” good afterward? What if the people we helped seemed ungrateful, or if someone at the food pantry stole $20 out of our purse? It can be difficult to love people when we think we might not get anything back. “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”

As Christians, we are called to imitate God. We follow a God who loves not only His closest friends, but who loves betrayers, deniers, and crucifiers. The Christian walk is one of perseverance and sacrifice. What does your love look like?

Author, Anna Carter