Browsing Homilies

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lv 19:1-2, 17-18 | Ps 103 | 1 Cor 3:16-23 | Mt 5:38-48

The Gospel presents no small or easy mission. Rather, we hear in today’s gospel, Christians are called above and beyond the measures of our society or governmental laws. We are not called to simply put up with our enemies, those we might distrust or dislike; we are called to love them. In both the Torah and Jesus’ usage, the command to love calls for active action. Love is not merely an internal feeling but something that finds its expression externally through both deeds and words.

Consider the political and social polarization that surrounds us today. The fights and struggles we encounter here are only what we see on the surface; there is much hate and distrust bubbling underneath. When something like hate-filled riots or attacks make the news, the depth of this reality comes into view. We dehumanize one another, fighting about politics rather than standing in solidarity or empathy with others, and it all leads to further harm—physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual harm.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one model of faith whose “little way” of love can be used by any Christian as a means for loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. When moving through postulancy and novitiate in her Carmelite community, Thérèse faced many challenges—for one, she was so young that she couldn’t fully profess vows at the typical end of her novitiate, and she struggled throughout her time in community to show love to all members.

This filled her with doubt and guilt, and out of periods of intense prayer, Thérèse arrived at her “little way.” She did small acts of goodness and love for each person, particularly those who she found most difficult to love. She walked the path of her vowed obedience not simply through words but through intentional deeds, and in addition, prayed for those she struggled to love.

Her “way” is an achievable model for Christian people and communities today. While we may want to mirror God’s love through big, heroic, loving acts, at the end of the day it is truly the smaller, simpler, daily interactions that reveal who we are as Christian disciples. Just as an artist’s work reveals something of the artist’s inner life, so too, do our external actions reveal something of our inner life. Sent forth by Christ Jesus to live the way of love, let us challenge one another to actively commit to the mission of Christ.


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