Lv 19:1-2, 17-18
1 Cor 3:16-23
Most of us are familiar with the primary command of scripture – to love God, neighbor and self. We also know that faithfully living that command is not always easy. In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus adds some additional injunctions that make the great command even more difficult to practice in our daily lives. He tells us not to negatively retaliate in any way to hurtful circumstances. Those of us who are called to be followers of Jesus are to go beyond the way the world usually works. We are to be counter-cultural. We are to be the very presence of Jesus in all circumstances.
The first reading adds more weight to Jesus’ command. We are told, “Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy. One understanding of holiness means that our external matches our internal; this is a condition of outward and inward purity. The Catholic Catechism simply states, “A state of goodness in which a person–with the help of God’s grace, the action of the Holy Spirit, and a life of prayer–is freed from sin and evil.” My preferred understanding of holiness means that the closer we come to being whole persons, becoming who God has created us to become, to that degree we are becoming holy. Simply put – wholeness equals holiness.
Being freed from sin and evil is certainly something we want, but we should also strive to become more loving and compassionate people. We should more consciously be trying to become more like Jesus who was inclusive in his relationships, who cared for the marginalized, was free with his talents and gifts, who was loving and forgiving. The closer we grow into his ways, the holier we become.
We should frequently reflect on our words and actions. How do we react when someone slights us? Do we respond with negative feedback? If someone is unkind to us, do we just avoid that person? The more difficult the situation, the harder it is to not respond negatively. What is being asked of us in Sundays readings is that we grow as committed followers of Jesus. Will we always react positively? Probably not, but the response to the Responsorial Psalm is the important message to remember. The Lord is kind and merciful.
How do you react to someone who treats you negatively?
In what ways are you becoming more the person God created you to become?