Sunday Mass Times in Blessington Parish
Saturday Vigil 6.00pm
Sunday 10.00am 11.00am 7.30pm
|Blessington Union of Parishes, Church of Ireland.|
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Gospel Matthew 5:38-48
Love your enemies.
Jesus said to his disciples: ’You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
Before he was killed in 1948, Gandhi wrote these words that proved all too soon to be prophetic: 'Have I the non-violence of the brave in me? My death will show that if someone killed me and I died with a prayer for the assassin on my lips and God's remembrance in my heart, only then would I be said to have the non-violence of the brave'. Not long after he wrote that, a Hindu who resented Gandhi's respect for Muslims, approached him as he was making his way to evening prayer and shot him three times in the chest. Before he died Gandhi raised his hand in a gesture of forgiveness and murmured 'Rama, rama, rama' - I forgive you, I love you, I bless you.
In today's Gospel (Matt 5: 38-48) Jesus is represented as trying to instil a similar holiness in his disciples. In order to accept and to commit to Jesus' teachings about non-violence, forgiveness and loving of enemies, we cannot be weaklings or cowards. Indeed, and Gandhi proved it, it takes great bravery to forgive. Jesus called for such bravery in his own followers and he challenged them to go beyond the Hebrew law of retaliation - an eye for an eye - tit for tat. Jesus gives examples, 'turn the other cheek, go the second mile, hand over your coat as well as your shirt and give to anyone who asks'. Jesus even went further with the challenge to holiness: 'Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you'.
For Jesus' contemporaries, the enemy would have been the Roman occupying power as well as those
others, Jews and gentiles who were openly hostile to him and his followers. To love and pray for people like this is unthinkable by human standards. However, we can't dismiss these challenges of Jesus by searching for loopholes or pass them off as fanciful. Believers in Jesus are called beyond the law and beyond the largesse of humanism - 'even the pagans do that'. In a few words, Jesus calls for a perfection that reflects the holiness of God - a holiness that excludes revenge and retribution. That can only come from the Holy One. We, on our part, are to welcome this love and resolve, through its strength living in us, to take Jesus at his word.
The Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (November 1964), renewed the universal call to holiness. It said; 'It is quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love. By this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered in earthly society’. God created humankind in the divine image, the essence of all that is true, good, loving and holy, and then called on every human believer to be true to that image in word and deed.
Fr. Kevin Lyon
Archdeacon of Glendalough