martes, 25 de febrero de 2014

A Call to Love: A Call to a High Moral Standard

7th Sunday in the Ordinary Time
February 23, 2014
Mt 5:38-48

Yakap, an acryclic painting on banig by Jomike Tejido. Visit:
We live in an imperfect world. Hatred and violence permeate our families and societies. Injustice is prevalent. Evil continues to thrive. In the face of such harsh realities, we are called to do the most difficult thing -- to love.

In today’s gospel, Jesus reinterprets the Law of Moses on retaliation, i.e., “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,”-- designed to ensure justice by making the punishment proportionate to the offense done-- by challenging his listeners “not to resist the evildoer.” Jesus is not advocating that we become doormats nor remain passive in the face of evil and wrongdoing. What Jesus tells us here is that we need not retaliate by returning violence for violence or evil for evil for this just perpetuates the cycle of evil and violence. Instead, we have to conquer evil with good, so that the cycle of evil may stop and be overcome.

Further in the gospel, Jesus raises the ante for loving — beyond those who love us to include our enemies. Repaying evil with good and loving ones enemies are too radical. We might protest: “Can these be applied in the real world where power matters? Would it just make the aggressor stronger and us, weaker?” As God’s ways are not man’s ways, the way of building God’s kingdom in this world is through love. Jesus, himself, personified this, when he walked in our world. Until today, Jesus continues to challenge the structures of this world and our relationships to ground it in love and not on power.

We recall how systemic structures of evil and oppression were fought and won over through non-violence through the examples of the Filipino people at EDSA in 1986, Mohandas Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King, Jr. in the US and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. We remember stories where the aggressor was accorded forgiveness either by the victim or the victim’s family through the story of John Paul II and recently, the parents of murdered Colorado student Claire Davies. Their stories inspire us that it is possible to move beyond the pain in order to love.

God knows how difficult it is for us to love rather than to hate, to forgive rather than to hold grudges, and to retaliate with good rather than with evil, for we ourselves are wounded and scarred. We need to ask this grace from Jesus who himself has shown the way. When we choose to love we become vulnerable but this same love has the capacity to transform and heal us, the one who hurt us, and even the people around us. Let us not be naïve though, that when we confront evil and our enemies with love, things will automatically become better. It will take time and probably we might end up martyrs for doing so. Regardless of the outcome, what is important is that we have done what Jesus exhorts us.

We are called to a high moral standard. By loving our enemies and retaliating with good we express the generosity of love that comes from Jesus. Likewise, we mirror the image of God in us who created and sustains us in love. Such is the invitation to be “perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


Lord, you have called us to radical loving. Enlarge our hearts that we may love and do good to those who have hurt us. Amen.

- Sem. DJ Garcia

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