February 23, 2020: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Reflect on the dignity of work and rights of workers
Read James 5:1-6 in relation to today’s Gospel reading
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, 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 in 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 fulfillment 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)
Why do we segregate, exclude, ostracize or condemn people viewed as unholy when God spoke to Moses and Jesus reiterated to His disciples the primacy of love over hatred? To assume a confrontational, vengeful posture spirals one into assuming the burden of sin instead of living in the freedom of love. For as God is holy, we are called to relish holiness. Not an aire of lofty piousness, but kindness and compassion emulating the love received from the Father. The invitation to live a life redeemed from distractions of building ideological crevasses of division fractured from verbal barbs and theological edicts not crafted in reproves of compassion. An expression for defusing anger with others while offering affirmation all are children of our heavenly Father. A Father who makes the sun the sun rise on the bad and the good, the just and the unjust, not withholding His blessings from anyone. A constant reminder we are to greet, dialogue, listen to, not just our spiritual sisters and brothers, but even those we might have the temptation to label as pagens. A call to visualize all humanity as temples of God. His creation, HIs goodness. If we seek to destroy others violently using words or force, we deny the sacredness of that person. Times may occur when one might reprove a fellow citizen, but let not that action rooted in kindness over concern for a better, just world disintegrate into a fray of verbal rage, physical abuse, emotional torment for an escalating cycle of violence. An attack on character spiraling into discounting the other’s humanity elicits a receipt for sin. For the fervor directed at another reverberates back to catch the perpetrator outside the bounds of civility, refusing the gift God has given them the humanity, another temple of the Holy Spirit, present before them. For the examples presented in the Gospel articulate the oppressed exposing the injustice and not retaliating with escalating violence. For only the right hand could strike another and turning the cheek left the perpetrator humiliated with a backhand slap. Taking all the clothes from a debtor exposed the creditor to the responsibility of leaving the person naked, in their sight. Carrying a pack beyond the distance dictated in rules limiting abuse, could leave those in authority subject to prosecution for exerting unjust demands. Where today can we stop the escalating verbage, violence, injustice by engaging in non-violent actions? Are we willing to turn the other cheek instead of trying to take control? Will we bare our humanity, not necessarily in a physical essence, but the humanity of our soul, to expose our true identity of who we are and what we stand for and may that make others think about the reality of their actions stripping humanity of dignity in a plethora of issues? Can we exert the effort to expose systemic abuse, walking, standing, being present when dominance creates realms of haves and have nots. All one must do is slow down, listen, observe, step back from the anger and ground our words, actions and prayers in love for friends and enemies, collaborators and persecutors, to live lives grounded in holiness as God is holy.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 5:38-48
During Lent, reflect on the Maryknoll resources focusing on ecological conversion:
Family Reflection: 1st Corinthians 3:16-23
Participate in Lenten activities to live the message of Laudato Sí
Prayer: On Wednesday, when you receive a cross of ashes, take time to reflect not just on your personal sin, but social sin in our world
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 18, 2020 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.