To Love Outside of the Box

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy. "You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: God catches the wise in their own ruses, and again: The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Matthew 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 neighbor 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."

This week’s readings lead us to the heart of our faith: the imperative of love above everything else. We are called to go the extra mile without complaints, to love without conditions, and to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Those are some tall orders! Let’s be real. How many of us have had the urge to return crude words or gestures to reckless drivers cutting dangerously close to our vehicle? Or considering retaliation against a rude or unreasonable colleague at work?

Indeed, our love for one another needs to be as deep and wide as God’s love for us. That’s easier said than done, right? Every time I reflect on this central teaching of our faith, I can’t help but feel discouraged. How could I, an imperfect mortal, be as “holy” and as “perfect” as our Heavenly Father is holy and perfect? Fortunately, we are given a roadmap and a role model to light our journey. We must be willing to go the extra mile; to push the boundaries and love outside of the box.

In Leviticus, Moses instructs the Israelites to be holy, neighbourly and kind, but honest, to their own “kin”. For instance, one must not “take vengeance” nor “bear a grudge” against each other (Lv 19:18). One needs to be honest with their neighbours and “reprove” them where necessary. Most notably, at the heart of Moses’ instructions is “love your neighbour as yourself” (Lv 19:18).

While Leviticus teaches us not to hate but love our kin as ourselves, Jesus boldly pushes the boundaries much further. In fact, Jesus demands a paradigm shift of our understanding of love. We are asked not only to love those who love us but also those whom we deem unlovable or difficult to love; even our rivals and those who bear hate against us (Ref Mt 5:46). Jesus reveals to us through his own humble life that love must be boundless and unconditional: “turn the other cheek”; “give your cloak as well”; “go also the second mile”; “give to everyone”; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:39-44).

What if we fail to love today, tomorrow, or next week? Let’s not be dismayed for our Lord is “merciful and gracious” (Ps 103:8). As long as we remain open to God’s love and let this love run its course in our life; as long as we keep getting up when we stumble; as long as we keep pushing the boundaries as Christ has done; and most of all, as long as we strive to love outside of the box, we are on the right path. Know that Christ walks with us along this journey.

Don’t forget:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
(Samuel Beckett)

Posted: February 23, 2020

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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