February 19, 2017: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
“In a world of social and economic strife, solidarity calls us to see others, locally and globally, as our brothers and sisters. People do not become someone to exploit and demean, but we affirm their life as part of the human family. Solidarity calls us to respect life by pursuing peace and justice to dispel the culture of violence in the world.”
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm: 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Second Reading: 1st Corinthians 3:16-23
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure,22 where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity. (1968)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Man and woman are in relationship with others above all as those to whom the lives of others have been entrusted. “For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning, … I will require it … of man [and] of every man’s brother” (Gen 9:5), God tells Noah after the flood. In this perspective, the relationship with God requires that the life of man be considered sacred and inviolable. The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17), has validity because God alone is Lord of life and death. The respect owed to the inviolability and integrity of physical life finds its climax in the positive commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18), by which Jesus enjoins the obligation to tend to the needs of one’s neighbour (cf. Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:29-31; Lk 10:27-28). (112)
The universality and integrality of the salvation wrought by Christ makes indissoluble the link between the relationship that the person is called to have with God and the responsibility he has towards his neighbour in the concrete circumstances of history. This is sensed, though not always without some confusion or misunderstanding, in humanity’s universal quest for truth and meaning, and it becomes the cornerstone of God’s covenant with Israel, as attested by the tablets of the Law and the preaching of the Prophets.
This link finds a clear and precise expression in the teaching of Jesus Christ and is definitively confirmed by the supreme witness of the giving of his life, in obedience to the Father’s will and out of love for his brothers and sisters. To the scribe who asks him “Which commandment is the first of all?” (Mk 12:28), Jesus answers: “The first is: ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29-31).
Inextricably linked in the human heart are the relationship with God — recognized as Creator and Father, the source and fulfilment of life and of salvation — and openness in concrete love towards man, who must be treated as another self, even if he is an enemy (cf. Mt 5:43-44). In man’s inner dimension are rooted, in the final analysis, the commitment to justice and solidarity, to the building up of a social, economic and political life that corresponds to God’s plan. (40)
1st Corinthians 3:22-23
Even the relationship with the created universe and human activity aimed at tending it and transforming it, activity which is daily endangered by man’s pride and his inordinate self-love, must be purified and perfected by the cross and resurrection of Christ. “Redeemed by Christ and made a new creature by the Holy Spirit, man can, indeed he must, love the things of God’s creation: it is from God that he has received them, and it is as flowing from God’s hand that he looks upon them and reveres them. Man thanks his divine benefactor for all these things, he uses them and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom. Thus he is brought to a true possession of the world, as having nothing yet possessing everything: ‘All [things] are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s’ (1 Cor 3:22-23)”. (44)
Not only is the inner man made whole once more, but his entire nature as a corporeal being is touched by the redeeming power of Christ. The whole of creation participates in the renewal flowing from the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, although it still awaits full liberation from corruption, groaning in travail (cf. Rom 8:19-23), in expectation of giving birth to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1) that are the gift of the end of time, the fulfilment of salvation. In the meantime, nothing stands outside this salvation. Whatever his condition of life may be, the Christian is called to serve Christ, to live according to his Spirit, guided by love, the principle of a new life, that brings the world and man back to their original destiny: “whether … the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor 3:22-23). (455)
Like scripture unfolds to Jesus’ quest that we purge violence from our lives, how has faith ventured you towards the path of non-violence? Genesis treads on unlimited revenge. Exodus of an eye for an eye limits vengeance to reciprocity and corrals escalation of violence. Leviticus presents the Golden Rule of treating neighbors as one would like to be treated. Jesus decrees we cease unlimited revenge, move beyond reciprocity of retribution, to not just loving neighbor, but to love our enemies. A snapping of proverbial power, breaking the cycle of violence to love as God loves. A love rooted in concern for every person, void of acts of violence. Not passivity or looking away with indifference from the well-being of others, but a backbone of moral resistance to prevail over the evil of violence. Leaving actions speaking louder than words to expose injustice. The need to use a backhand slap to strike the other cheek would be an act of humiliation for the perpetrator. Handing over one’s cloak to accompany the tunic, would in nakedness expose economic injustice rendered by the plaintiff seeking to strip one of the necessities of life. Roman mandates limited the duration of service imposed on the citizenry. By accepting help carrying gear for two miles, the Roman soldier faced a dilemma, follow legal mandates of one mile or participate in unjust servitude. Jesus invites us into a non-violent lifestyle to transform hearts of the unjust, by exposing their actions fracturing human dignity. Open their eyes to the severity inherent in their actions, so they acclaim WOW, I wasn’t cognizant of the gravity of my actions leading to the finality, ceasing of their cycle of violence. Then people transcend towards the generosity and holiness of God, without hatred, revenge and grudges in their hearts towards sisters and brothers.
Living a life built on non-violence commits no sinful act against another, while never remaining silent, at least by deed, when a fellow citizen of the global family must be reproved. With kindness and compassion, the Law finds fulfillment in depths pleasing to God and depths of stratified layers comprising the solid foundation non-violence provides for our faith journey. As God embraces us with compassion, not the gravity of our sins, He separates us infinitely from our transgressions. We must then emulate that paradigm in our lives, so we live as if we are a temple of God whose spirit dwells within us to translate a spiritual persona by how we live our lives. Living non-violently may seem foolish to the world, just as the cross seems foolish in worldly reason. We must not let power, greed or authority deceive our vision from focusing on live’s fulfilling the Law with non-violent responses to cycles of violence ignoring the human physical, social and economic realities. Only generosity fulfills the Law, beyond the letter of the Law to books bound with spines resilient, pages filled with options for kindness and a preface scribed by Jesus inviting us forward to lives of non-violence.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 5:38-48
Read Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action, by Fr John Dear and then share the book with another person.
Family Reflection: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Discuss concrete ways to love enemies, such as prayer, welcoming, inclusion, and implement them into your lives.
Prayer: Pax Christi pledge of non-violence: https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/
RECOGNIZING THE VIOLENCE IN MY OWN HEART, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”
Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus
▪ by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
▪ by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
▪ by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
▪ by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
▪ by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
▪ by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.
God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born February 16, 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.