February 23, 2014 - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Feb 14, 2014, 10:19 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:16 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 5: 38-48

Kristenne's Reflection
In this week’s gospel, we are challenged to put ourselves in a vulnerable position. We are asked, in a way, to stop for a moment from trying to get ahead and instead be aware of other people in our lives. We are told to put ourselves in place to get hurt. Essentially, we are invited to show unconditional love.
It’s uncomfortable to listen to the first part of the gospel. Offer them both cheeks? No thank you. However, what I think it means is to have an open heart. Jesus hung on the cross in pain and what did he do to those that teased him? He said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”
He forgave us. And we killed him.
To show unconditional love is not just to be nice to those who are nice to us, it also means to be forgiving and open to those that hurt us. It is the hardest thing to do when someone hurts you, but in the end you both come out stronger and in better shape than if you resorted to hitting back.
There was a time when one of my closest friends and I had a falling out. We had been friends for so long until tensions rose and we just stopped speaking to one another.
That time had been really painful for me because I felt like I lost a part of me that I sadly took for granted. It required a lot of courage to own up to that and I hoped to salvage our relationship. However, when I admitted to that and tried to talk to that person, I found out that they had done something so wrong towards me. It felt like a stab in the back multiple times. I felt replaced and dejected and all I wanted to do was the exact same thing back towards them.
It would have felt good to stab them right back, I thought. But in my prayers to God of confusion and hurt and pain and crying and feelings of betrayal (and conversations with other friends), I realized that I did not want to lose my integrity of doing something like that to someone I considered a friend…however long or short ago.
I am glad to say, that we are on much better terms today and I feel better knowing that I didn’t do something to wrong them back. I am nowhere near perfect of course, because there were some jabs here and there. And it was not an easy or short journey, but that experience taught me that love for everyone (including yourself) is what will make this world a better place to live in.
And that...I could have been one less best friend if I didn’t learn how express unconditional love.

Alfred’s Reflection
"When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well." Jesus asks us to do some very hard things in the Gospels. Often, I think we get stuck on the hard part and we don’t hear why doing that hard thing is important. How many of us heard that one line and replayed that over and over in our head, visualized it, while the rest of the Gospel was read? Letting someone hurt you again doesn't make sense.

Back when I was on my high school cross country team, I remember running intervals. That's where you alternate between jogging and sprinting. Jog for two minutes, sprint for 30 seconds, jog for one minute... It's kind of fun... for a while. Then you get to that point where the coach whistles and your brain orders your legs: "Full speed ahead" (again). And your legs respond with: "What, again?!" or "Why" or, simply, "No". Why would a coach make long distance runners sprint? The answer comes when you are able to pass others on an uphill climb and pick up the pace towards the finish line.

Similarly, Jesus asks us to do something that is counter to our human nature in order to embrace our heavenly nature. You've got cross country and track coaches, basketball coaches, volleyball coaches. Jesus is our Heaven coach. Those other coaches train us to physical extremes so we can win. Jesus challenges us to our spiritual extremes, to love beyond the limit, so that we can get to heaven.

So, set aside the stuff about turning the other cheek. That's not the point. The point that Jesus is trying to drill into us is: Do not hold a grudge when we get wronged, dissed, messed with, hurt. Let it go. Grudges are negative energy that grows and festers and wears us down. Grudges keep us away from the people we should love. Jesus wants us to spirit bend the dark energy of grudges into the positive energy of love.

There's a popular movie in the theaters right now. It has a song number in it where one of the heroines sings of a lifetime of resentment and hurt and the burden of keeping it all locked in. She "Let's It Go." But I think that she mixed up Jesus' lessons. In the movie, she hurt someone else. Instead, in the process of "letting it go", she isolates herself from everyone, from those she loves and from those who love her.

Jesus would have told her: When you hurt someone else, you beg forgiveness. When you are hurt by someone else, that is when you let it go.

Jesus was fully human. There's a story in the Gospel about him trying to teach the Good Good News in his home town. How did they react? They threw him out! They said things like: "Who is this guy talking to us about God?" "Isn't that Joseph's kid from around the block?" "What's a woodworker telling me about my relationship with God?" How bad would you feel? Did Jesus act out? Did he turn everyone into toads? He easily could have, but he kept himself in check. Jesus expressed his disappointment and moved on to find people who were open to learning from him.

We only have so many hours in the day, a limited time on this earth, and we have to choose where we spend our time and energy. Jesus does not want us to waste it by dwelling on past hurts. Jesus wants to use our time and energy on the good that we can do. We should use our time on this earth to train and practice so that we make it to the Heavenly Big Game. Can we all agree that is what it is all about?