A Reflection on the Readings for Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, February 20, 2022
1st Reading: Book of Samuel (26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23)
2nd Reading: First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (15:45-49)
Gospel Reading: Holy Gospel according to Luke (6:27-38)
The first sentence of the Gospel is meant to get our attention; Jesus proclaims, “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is obviously not a suggestion, but indeed is one of the times Jesus instructs us with authority.
We have all experienced some level of hatred in our lives, and in that moment of great contention and distress, it is all too often that our emotions move us away from any kind of desire to love. But if we are faithful and believing Christians, then we understand the process of loving in the face of great torment and agony. Jesus cried out in his last moments on the cross, “Forgive them father for they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus taught and showed us how to be merciful and loving to those who hate and destroy. In this Gospel, Luke gives us Jesus’ own words, and they were more than just words because he showed us how to live them.
I recently read an article posted in the Vision Times that speaks volumes about overcoming hatred and allowing our hearts to be filled with love…
Long ago, a girl named Marina got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law. After a short while, she found that she absolutely could not get along with her mother-in-law. Their personalities were entirely different, and Marina could not stand her mother-in-law’s habit of nagging her. As days went by, their relationship worsened. Marina’s husband was caught in the middle and felt very miserable. Eventually, Marina could no longer stand her mother-in-law’s extreme attitude and went to find her father’s friend, Mr. Wong, who sold Chinese herbal medicines. She told him about her situation and asked him for some poison in order to take care of her problem for good. Mr. Wong pondered for a moment and said, “Marina, I can help you solve the problem, but you have to listen to me and do exactly what I say” Marina agreed.
Mr. Wong took out a packet of herbs and handed it to Marina. He told her, “Marina… listen. You cannot get rid of your mother-in-law quickly by poison. If you do, others will suspect you. The herbs that I chose will take effect slowly, and the toxin will gradually develop in the body. It is best that you prepare meat and fish for her every day and put a small amount of the poison in the dishes. In addition, to keep others from suspecting you when she dies, you must act respectfully towards her and obey her. Neither can you quarrel with her.” Marina promised to do as he instructed and, after thanking Mr. Wong, she rushed home to implement her plan to murder her mother-in-law.
Every day, she cooked special dishes for her mother-in-law. She remembered Mr. Wong’s words. She tried her best to control her temper and obeyed her mother-in-law to avoid suspicion. Gradually, Marina found that she did not get angry as easily as before, and she no longer had disputes with her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law’s attitude toward Marina also changed, and she loved Marina like her own daughter. She started singing her praises to her neighbors, relatives, and friends and said Marina was the best daughter-in-law in the world. Seeing that his mother and wife could live in harmony, Marina’s husband was very happy.
One day, Marina went to get help from Mr. Wong again. She said: “Mr. Wong, please, please help me stop the poison. I do not want it to kill my mother-in-law. She has become a good woman, and I love her like my own mother, and I do not want her to die because of the poison.” Mr. Wong nodded and smiled: “You can rest assured, Marina. I never gave you any poison. Those herbs are to nourish the body and will only improve your mother-in-law’s health. The only poison was in your heart and your attitude toward her. Fortunately, your love for her has washed away your hatred.”
This story is a great reminder that hatred and resentment cannot be eliminated by poison. It is love, as Jesus said, that has the ability to wash away the resentments and grievances in our heart. Love is the pathway to mercy, and this merciful love allows us to live in harmony with others.
I have also learned that we cannot change others, what they think, or what they do. We can only change ourselves, and if we are willing to take that first step, to offer merciful love instead of hate then there are unlimited possibilities. The beautiful results will eventually come back to bless our own lives.
Love and blessings,
Deacon Jeff Borski