Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent

Matt 5:43-48

Love of Enemies

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

A story is told about two good friends who became business partners. One friend so trusted that in the end the other friend run away with the money together with his wife. The jilted friend swore in his anger to avenge his misfortune. Another friend came by and found out what happened. His advice was full of wisdom: “It may be hard to forgive, much less to forget. But it is better if you forgive them…otherwise you will not only lose your money and your wife. You will lose your soul too.”

Forgiving is a divine precept as Jesus teaches us in today’s gospel. Forgiving, which is an act of our will not our emotions, is a great favor we do to ourselves as well. In the Our Father, we pray: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive others who wrong us.” Jesus introduced something unheard of before with regard to forgiving, namely: 1. We expect God to forgive us to the degree by which we forgive others; 2. The sign that we indeed have received God’s forgiveness is our willingness to forgive others.

Indeed, if we are able to forgive, we would save ourselves from restless nights and we could channel our energies to more constructive things. If we find ourselves unable to forgive, it could be that God is not good enough for us. It could be that God and His words do not occupy the first priority in our lives.

Jesus was no Psychology major but He knew the human heart. Let us learn how to forgive from the heart and wear love in our hearts. (Fr. Joel Maribao, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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“All we want is justice,” is the frequent refrain of family and relatives of victims of crime. They want by all means that the perpetrators f the crime are imprisoned or executed, as if that will even out the score and give them peace. When we are hurt, it is our natural instinct to get back at the one who hurt us. But Jesus is asking us to go against this urge. Pope John Paul II gave an inspiring example by visiting in prison the Turkish terrorist, Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had seriously wounded him in an assassination attempt. The Pope wanted to personally tell Agca that he forgives him.

It is very difficult to forgive an injury, insult or betrayal. But Jesus insists that this is the acid test of a true follower. He said: “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute.”
And He Himself did this from the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This praying for one’s enemies is an important step towards loving them and healing the wounds. In the way we are keeping God’s commandments and imitating Him “who lets the sun shine on the unjust and the just.” You must be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate,” (Lk 6:36). (Fr. Jim Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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One of the difficult things to do as a Christian is obeying this commandment, love your enemies. How can you love somebody who hurt you!

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians would say: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come,” (5:17). As new creatures in Christ we are exhorted to respond differently to ‘enemies’ – to love and not to avoid to hate them.

How then should we react to people who have hurt us? Terri Sorter and Ed Gaffney in their article “Bringing Peace to the World – One Relationship at a Time” (in Human Development Vol. 28, Number One, Spring 2007) suggest four simple steps which they called four Gs.

  1. Glorify God. This first step calls us to pray for enlightenment. This is asking God to suspend our natural, human reaction toward a person who has hurt us and prayerfully ask God to open our minds.
  2. Got the Log Out of Our Own Eye. This second G asks us to take responsibility for the contribution we might have in making an enemy of the other even if we have not initiated the conflict. This step asks us to identify the role we have played in the conflict. It is naming our own fault. It might be our attitude, our words and actions, or our sins of omission.
  3. Gently Restore. This G calls us to be humble in acknowledging to someone how we have hurt them or how we reacted to the hurt we felt by their words and/or actions. Although there is no assurance how this action will be taken by the other, our faith calls us to take this step for the sake of the relationship and for our witnessing. Of course, without the grace of prayer, it would be hard to take this step.
  4. Go and be Reconciled. This G calls for forgiveness from the heart. It is the forgiveness that we pray to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer. We are called to take this difficult step because we believe in the forgiveness of Jesus both for ourselves and for the people who have hurt us. (Fr. Francisco Estepa, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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One of the difficult things to do as a Christian is obeying this commandment, love your enemies. How can you love somebody who hurt you!

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians would say: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come,” (5:17). As new creatures in Christ we are exhorted to respond differently to ‘enemies’ – to love and not to avoid to hate them.

How then should we react to people who have hurt us? Terri Sorter and Ed Gaffney in their article “Bringing Peace to the World – One Relationship at a Time” (in Human Development Vol. 28, Number One, Spring 2007) suggest four simple steps which they called four Gs.

  1. Glorify God. This first step calls us to pray for enlightenment. This is asking God to suspend our natural, human reaction toward a person who has hurt us and prayerfully ask God to open our minds.
  2. Got the Log Out of Our Own Eye. This second G asks us to take responsibility for the contribution we might have in making an enemy of the other even if we have not initiated the conflict. This step asks us to identify the role we have played in the conflict. It is naming our own fault. It might be our attitude, our words and actions, or our sins of omission.
  3. Gently Restore. This G calls us to be humble in acknowledging to someone how we have hurt them or how we reacted to the hurt we felt by their words and/or actions. Although there is no assurance how this action will be taken by the other, our faith calls us to take this step for the sake of the relationship and for our witnessing. Of course, without the grace of prayer, it would be hard to take this step.
  4. Go and be Reconciled. This G calls for forgiveness from the heart. It is the forgiveness that we pray to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer. We are called to take this difficult step because we believe in the forgiveness of Jesus both for ourselves and for the people who have hurt us. (Fr. Francisco Estepa, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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We have read one of the revolutionary teachings of our Lord where he said: “Love your enemies.” For the Jews and other religions the rule is: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” For some indigenous people in our country they have an unwritten law: “blood for blood.” If a member of one tribe is injured by a member of another tribe, the aggrieved party requires retribution by injuring a member of the other tribe or else there will be a tribal war.

When the Lord commands us to love our enemy the word he used for “love” is the Greek word agape. Agape means charity. For example, your enemy is hanging from a cliff shouting for help, agape means helping him climb up the cliff to safety. Agape means benevolence – wishing others well. The Lord told us to pray for our enemies. When Jesus was hanging on the cross he prayed: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Agape also means respect. We have to respect our enemies, even though they have done us wrong, because the Lord loves them.

One time, after giving talk about forgiveness and loving enemies, a lady approached me to ask about forgiving a former boyfriend. Does forgiving require loving again her former boyfriend, “Dapat bang balikan ang kahapon?” (Should you go back to the past?) I told her that she doesn’t have to do that. She just needs to give an agape kind of love.

Loving an enemy is a choice and an act of will. Although I am still hurting, in the name of Jesus, I will forgive (Fr. Titus Mananzan SVD Bible Diary 2014).

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February 20, 2016 Saturday

I used to cringe everytime I read this Gospel especially that part that says, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”. We have this saying, “mapanduw man ganinang kabaw nga upat ang tiil, sani na kahaang tawo” (even carabaos that have four feet stumble, how much more people). Just how in the world could anybody be perfect?

This passage is part of what is referred to in the Gospel of Matthew as The Sermon on the Mount wherein the overall theme is the relationship between the Father (God) and His children (us – supposedly).

I grew up in a unique family set-up. Nanay works and Tatay stays at home to do the household chores. Most importantly, Tatay was he who was with me and my siblings most of the time. I heard his stories everyday (mostly war stories), so I grew up admiring guns and dreaming of wars; I admired his social life (he had none), so I stayed at home most of the time; I idolized his communication skill (sound of silence), I reckon it’s because “silent rivers run deep”.

People have labeled me as “war freak”; a good number think I am “anti-social”; the seminary tried but failed to kick me out because I didn’t ‘talk enough’. Tatay likes to joke that the first time he saw me he doubted whether I was “his.” Now, there is no shadow of a doubt whose son I am. I am PERFECTLY like him.

The call to perfection is not about becoming immaculate, spotless lambs, but rather an invitation to an intimate relationship with the most tender of Fathers, such that there wouldn’t be any iota of doubt as to whose children we are (Fr. Dante Barril, SVD Rome, Italy Bible Diary 2016)

rveritas-asia.org/index.php/daily-reflection/460-february-20-2016-saturday

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Reflection: We should be like the Father

Jesus in today’s gospel is telling us to make friends always and avoid creating enemies. He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (v. 44). He asks us to do two things. First is to love our enemies. What Jesus says is to do good to our enemies. This is to avoid revenge. Don’t think of retaliation. We should never let ill feeling reside in our hearts. But we open our hearts to understanding and forgiveness. Our hearts should never be closed to them. And we create all possibilities to foster friendship. Second is to pray for our enemies. What Jesus wants here is to wish them good. It is to see goodness in them. We should still think of their well-being. We will not close our minds to them. We should still believe of their goodness. We should still trust them.

Now, what have we been doing so far for our enemies? Is it according to the gospel challenge of loving and praying for them?

Here we can say that Jesus is teaching us to avoid biases and prejudices. He urges us to get rid of the ‘likes and dislikes’ attitude. So, we should love not only those whom we like or those who are lovable. Nor we will not love those who are not good to us. We should help not only those who are dear to us. But our love should be for all.  Our help should transcend our motives and emotions. Our mercy is not reserved for those who are near to us. Our treatment must be equal.  We love and pray for everybody. The gospel says, “For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust,” (v. 45).

Lastly, today’s gospel gives us a model to follow. There is someone after whom we have to pattern our life. He is the right one to imitate. We must be like Him. We must take after Him.  He is whom the gospel describes, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (v. 48). Thus, we should be like the Father.

How close should we be like the Father?

Story: The children were playing in the living room.  The mother was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner. The two boys started to fight. The eldest sister stopped them. But she was ignored and the two boys continued fighting. Their sister warned them, “If you continue fighting, mommy will not love you.”

The mother appeared and reprimanded her two sons. She told them to understand each other and apologize to each other. The mother asked them to remember that she will be sad of her children quarrelled. “Will you love us still?” the boys asked their mother. She replied, “Yes, of course I will always love you. But I will love you with a joyful heart if you are good to one another. I love you still but with a sorrowful heart if you are bad to one another.”

Challenges: Make the first move to be reconciled against those we have ill feelings. Say kind words and do kind deeds to those who do not like.

Try to reach out to those who have been away from us, especially to those we have not spoken for a long time. (Msgr. Ruperto C Santos STL, Jesus Serves and Saves Us!, Makati: St. Pauls, 2003: 51-53).

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Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent (A)

Matthew 5:43-48. Why is it important to love enemies? Someone said this: “We are to love our enemies – not because our enemies are fit to be loved but because we are not fit to hate.” Indeed, this is true. We are not made to hate. We are supposed to reflect in ourselves the love of God, from whose image and likeness we were created. For this reason, Jesus admonishes: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Moreover, we are to love our enemies because this is beneficial to us. Oftentimes, we believe that by hating or by refusing to forgive enemies we gain. But this is untrue. When we choose to continue hating another, we hurt our spirits and we cause serious damage to our hearts. But, if we show kindness to enemies, we do well to ourselves, also. (Abet Uy)

abetuy.blogspot.com/2014/03/saturday-of-1st-week-of-lent-a.html

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Friday, February 19, 2016

SATURDAY OF THE 1ST WEEK OF LENT (YEAR C) – MATEO 5:43-48. NGANONG ANGAY MANG HIGUGMAON UG PASAYLOON ANG MGA KAAWAY? Una, ang paghigugma ug pagpasaylo maoy makapahunong sa pagdinumtanay ug panag-away. Ang pagdumot magbungag pagdumot, ug ang panagbugno magbungag dugang panagbugno. Ikaduha, ang paghigugma ug pagpasaylo maoy makaayo sa samarang kasingkasing. Usahay maghunahuna kita nga ang pagpanimalos maoy maghatag kanatog kalipay. Dili kini tinuod. Ang tawo nga kanunay’ng manimalos mahimong madinumtanon ug dili magmalipayon. Ug sa katapusan, ang paghigugma ug pagpasaylo maoy magpaila nga kita mga anak gayod sa Dios. Sama nga ang Langitnong Amahan nahigugma sa mga makasasala ug buot moluwas kanila, kita usab gitawag nga mahigugma ug magpasaylo sa mga nakasala kanato. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2016/02/saturday-of-1st-week-of-lent-year-c.html

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reflection for February 20, Saturday of the First Week of Lent; Matthew 5:43-48

Reflection: Are you still capable of loving someone who doesn’t love you anymore?

In the gospel Jesus calls us to a higher form of love: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).

It’s not easy to give love to someone who betrayed your trust. But that’s what Jesus is telling us: to love unconditionally. Regardless of the hurts and betrayal done to us we still need to love and pray for those who’ve hurt us.

There’s no winner when we respond betrayal with betrayal, anger with anger. In spite of the injury done to us, why not try to still be meek and forgiving and leave everything in the hands of God? God doesn’t love us selectively; He doesn’t love us because we follow His commands. He still loves us even if we’ve betrayed Him so many times.

God loves us without any preconditions; He lets the sun rise and the rain to fall on all of us sinners. Therefore we have to love even those who don’t love us anymore. – Marino J. Dasmarinas

http://mjdasma.blogspot.com/2016/02/reflection-for-february-20-saturday-of.html

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February 20, 2016

REFLECTION: To many Christians Jesus’ injunction to love our enemies appears to be an impossible demand on his part. “How can I love that bastard Joe and that bitch Jane when I feel like tearing them to shreds?”

The operative word here is feel. Those Christians, brainwashed as they are by the media, are convinced that love is essentially a feeling. Now, since they feel only negative feelings toward their enemies, they cannot imagine how they can reverse those negative feelings into positive feelings merely on the strength of Jesus’ command. And, of course, they cannot, and that is not what Jesus is asking them to do.

But love is not basically a feeling. It is an act of the will—sometimes ­accompanied by positive feelings, but not always. This means that by a free act of my will I can ignore my negative feelings for Joe and Jane and force myself to love them in action. Here Luke’s version of these verses of Matthew is clear: “Do good to those who hate you… bless… pray… lend money” (Lk 6:27-36). These are all actions I can perform regardless of my negative feelings. And that is all Jesus asks of us: to love in action. And, if we do that, we will soon experience a change in our negative feelings.

CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION, INC.

8 Mayumi Street, U.P. Village, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines

Tel.: (02) 921-3984, 922-9806 • Fax: (02) 921-6205

schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3449-february-20-2016

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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