The Seventh Sunday of the Year

Lev 19:1-2 & 17-18; 1 Cor 3:16-23; Mt 5: 38-45 (Year A)

‘Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” In the Book of Leviticus, Moses proclaimed the call to holiness as the foundation of Israel’s moral code. We cannot doubt the holiness of God, but we do perhaps struggle to understand how sinful humanity could possibly emulate the holiness of God himself.

In a similar context, after a series of challenging demands, Jesus summoned his disciples “to be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Once again, while we cannot doubt the Father’s perfection, we cannot, from the evidence our own daily struggles, imagine sharing such perfection.

The path to holiness, to becoming perfect as the Father is perfect, begins with the next choice that we make. This was the path set down by Moses. “You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself.”

Few can escape the petty resentments and grudges that injured pride sows in our hearts. They feed upon themselves, expressing themselves in harsh judgments and divisive actions. In humble prayer let us acknowledge that we too, in our struggle for holiness, are the prisoners of conflicting desires. We cannot change overnight, but we can surrender the next thought, the next action, to a merciful God. We can, in the next thing that comes before us, choose to be ruled by love of neighbour rather than selfish pride.

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