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Homily - Feb 19th, 2023

7th.Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Feb.19, 2023.

Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18; I Cor 3:16-23; Mt 5:38-48.

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am Holy.”

“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Introduction: Today’s readings explain the basis of Jewish and Christian morality: the Holiness of the loving, merciful and compassionate One God. God’s chosen people were, and are, expected to be holy people sharing in God’s Holiness by embodying His love, mercy and forgiveness. Scripture readings summarized: The 1st reading, (Leviticus), gives the Holiness code: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am Holy.” It also gives us the way to share God’s holiness: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Resp. Psalm (Ps 103) challenges us to be like our God – kind, merciful and forgiving -- and it shows us the measure of perfection Christ asks us to bring to our relationships.

In the 2nd reading, St. Paul gives us an additional reason to be holy. We are to keep our bodies holy because we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit lives in us.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus confirms, corrects, and expands the Ten Commandments. Here, Jesus condemns even the mild form of the “Law of the Talion, (Lex Talionis),” the Babylonian tribal law of restricted retaliation which Moses passed on to Israel. In its place, Jesus gives his new law of love, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and no retaliation.

Life Message: For Jesus, retaliation, or even limited vengeance, has no place in the Christian life, even though graceful acceptance of an offense requires great strength and discipline of character, as well as strengthening by God’s grace. The second part of today’s Gospel passage presents the Christian ethic of personal relationships: love one’s neighbors and forgive one’s enemies. It tells us that what makes Christians different is the grace through which they treat others with loving kindness and mercy, even if they don’t deserve it. In other words, we are commanded to love our enemies as Jesus loves us, with agápe love, not because our enemies deserve our love, but because Jesus loves them so much that he died for them as he did for us.

Conclusion: In short, we are to mirror God’s attributes in the world. As God loves and welcomes, so too humans are called to love and welcome, even to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Perfection is not as humankind usually views it-an unattainable, inhuman kind of spotlessness. Rather Jesus speaks of moral and relation goodness, whereby, we bring God’s agape love into the world, through our interactions, particularly, with those who experience marginalization. Folks, our moral duty is to stand in solidarity with one another! Thus, while we may want to mirror God’s love through big, heroic, loving acts, at the end of the day, it is the smaller, simpler, daily interactions that reveal who we truly are as Christian disciples. Therefore, sent firth by Christ Jesus to live the way of love, let’s challenge one another to actively commit to the mission of Christ. “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am Holy.” And “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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