16. Feb, 2019

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Be Compassionate as your Father is Compassionate

Today we transition from the beatitudes to ideals of Christian living. The Gospel sketches out the ‘how-to’ to live this beautiful yet challenging way of life God is calling us to. Jesus promises us a reward in that what we put in we will get back and so we are called to be builders of God’s kingdom.

The 1st thing to point out is that we build upon faith alone. Last week’s Gospel ended with “Woe to you when all speak well of you.” We learnt that the way of the world –a lifestyle that isn’t built upon God– is cursed because anything not of God is devoid of true life.

And it’s this disparity between our absolute need of God and the life God offers us despite our unworthiness and sinfulness which reveals the heart of the Gospel ideal. That is: ‘Your Father is compassionate, extend the love and mercy you have received to each other.’ Don’t judge, don’t accuse, don’t condemn. God didn’t. Rather do good, give, love, forgive – regardless of the way you are treated. God went beyond all bounds to give us a chance at eternal life so we must treat others the same.

This remarkable vision of love put forth in today’s Gospel is that of building up God’s kingdom by bearing up and carrying people in their weakness and sinfulness with no thought for ourselves. Of course, the Crucifix shows us that Jesus practices what he preached.

With this standard revealed who here deserves praise? To be acceptable to God we have nothing to offer apart from our brokenness. We can only live like Jesus when we draw strength from our faith. The reason is this: living in communion, as God lives in communion, requires our giving ourselves completely to each-other. To overcome our selfish tendencies we need the power of God’s grace!

In living the Christian life we invariably miss the mark in our brokenness; invariably self-indulgence gets the better of us. But don’t be despondent, your Father is merciful. Be reconciled through the sacrament of penance. However, you are obliged to extend this compassion to others. Forgive as God forgives you in your weakness.

So, there you have it. God’s ideals are high and Jesus set the ‘bar’ on the Cross. Jesus is the king of mercy and we are challenged to make His way of life our own. However, it is by faith alone that we can do as Jesus asks. Through faith God’s power will give you the ability to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. We are called to build up God’s kingdom by cementing our relationships in the compassionate love of God.