Gospel 19.2.2023

Sunday – 19th February 2023 – The Gospel

1 Jn 2:5
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mt 5:38-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Each and every time we read the Gospel, we remind ourselves that a God of love, mercy and forgiveness speaks. In someways, like a good teacher or parent, high expectations and goals are put in place but our God never stops loving us or forgiving us, no matter what.

Some people subjectively feel excluded from our church if they feel they have committed wrong or they cannot immediately achieve the goals articulated in the Gospel readings. They find it difficult to believe that they can be part of our Church, if they have encountered a road in life not consistent with Church teaching.

Remember always, that our God is a God of love – all forgiving. Remember that many Gospel readings focus on Jesus encountering people seeking forgiveness and starting afresh. Remember always that we may go wrong in life many times but this should never prevent us trying, trying and trying to start again to better ourselves. We come back to the open inviting arms of the Lord by walking through the doors of His church. Nothing makes the Lord happier than a prodigal son returning; a lost sheep found.

In today’s Gospel Jesus sets a very high standard in asking that we love our enemies.

Very few of us will achieve a level of holiness that is perfect. We are asked however to set ourselves a goal which sets a high standard. With regard to our “enemies,” a perfect love for them must be our standard as a person of faith. We may not achieve this goal or other goals set by the Gospel teachings immediately but we must keep trying and praying to the Lord for help to achieve these high standards.

So who is my “enemy?” Though Jesus does not define this for us, we should consider it to be anyone with whom there is some form of tension or discord. Perhaps there is someone who hates or dislikes you and speaks ill of you or treats you poorly. Or perhaps there is someone whom you dislike and find yourself angry at or even judgmental toward. So begin by trying to identify anyone with whom you have a lack of perfect affection. When one actively sits and thinks; there might be many more people on that list than on the list of those you “love.”
One Church Father says that we love our enemy “when we are not sorrowful at his or her success, or rejoice in his or her fall.” This is a very helpful definition to consider.

If someone whom you dislike succeeds in something praiseworthy, how do you react interiorly? If there is an immediate visceral reaction or if you find yourself trying to figure out why they should be congratulated, then you might struggle with this sin. Or consider what you think, say or feel if you hear that someone you dislike has some problem, gets into some trouble, or encounters some misfortune. The ideal response is empathy and a desire for their well-being. If this is not the response within you, then pay attention to that and pray to the Lord to help you change your outlook towards that person.

Jesus concludes His teaching by saying that His Father “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” In other words, God bestows His perfect love and mercy upon everyone equally. The only difference is that some people choose to accept that mercy and others reject it. As for ourselves, just like our loving God, we must offer love and mercy to everyone equally and as completely as we can. And though some may reject that love, just as they reject the love of God, it must always be offered and never rescinded. This is love of neighbour and also love of our enemies. It is a high standard and although we may not achieve this goal today or tomorrow, we simply must keep trying and praying to the Lord for help to achieve this goal.


My loving Lord, You love and bestow Your unlimited mercy upon all people, the good and bad alike. I pray that I may always be open to that love and receive it deeply into my own life. I pray also that Your love may shine through me into the lives of those who need it the most. Jesus, I trust in You.