Reflections

The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 23, 2020

Love is Hard (Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18)

Love and hate are not the only options. In between lies a range of emotions including concern and indifference. If someone offends us, we may respond in a variety of ways. Some people feel hatred, bear grudges, and seek revenge. It is a fairly easy choice. But others take the harder option.

The Book of Leviticus proposes this difficult solution. God said to Moses, “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. . . . Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This command is one of the most challenging in the entire Old Testament, yet Jesus chose it as one of the greatest commandments: Love your neighbor.

The Book of Leviticus realizes that not every neighbor is lovable. “You may have to reprove your fellow citizen.” People sometimes do the wrong thing. They should not continue such behavior. You may have the opportunity to offer correction. But correction is not a license for anger or for the disruption of charity. When correcting your neighbor, Leviticus says, “do not incur sin.” Be not hateful. Be loving.

It is easy to love the neighbor we like, but it is harder to love the neighbor who offends. That love can take many forms—even the form of charitable correction. But it should never deteriorate to hatred. There are other options.

The Perils of Wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:16–23)

We live in peril. We know some day we will die. Between now and then we will enjoy life, but we also face its dangers. Disease and violence threaten us. Friends could turn against us. Possessions can be taken away. Natural disasters can change our fortunes. We live in constant peril.

Yet in this state of unrest we come to know God best. Paul tells the Corinthians, “you are the temple of God.” The Spirit of God dwells within them. They are holy. But if they consider themselves wise in this age, they should become fools. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.” When we acknowledge our shortcomings, we speak the truth. In the truth we begin to learn the wisdom of God.

Harm may threaten us, but God keeps us holy. We may not understand why bad things happen, but we trust that God does. God loves us, created us, and placed the Spirit within us. God will not leave us alone.

The peril that surrounds us is not just about physical or mental harm. We are also subject to the perils of wisdom, the danger of thinking we know it all, that we can solve it all, or that we deserve it all.

Wisdom belongs to God. Christ belongs to God. We belong to Christ. And all things—all blessings and dangers—take their place within God’s plan of love and redemption.

Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year A © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.