First Reading: From the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 8:1-9
1 Next, brothers, we will tell you of the grace of God which has been granted to the churches of Macedonia,
2 and how, throughout continual ordeals of hardship, their unfailing joy and their intense poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
3 I can testify that it was of their own accord that they made their gift, which was not merely as far as their resources would allow, but well beyond their resources;
4 and they had kept imploring us most insistently for the privilege of a share in the fellowship of service to God’s holy people-
5 it was not something that we expected of them, but it began by their offering themselves to the Lord and to us at the prompting of the will of God.
6 In the end we urged Titus, since he had already made a beginning, also to bring this work of generosity to completion among you.
7 More, as you are rich in everything-faith, eloquence, understanding, concern for everything, and love for us too — then make sure that you excel in this work of generosity too.
8 I am not saying this as an order, but testing the genuineness of your love against the concern of others.
9 You are well aware of the generosity which our Lord Jesus Christ had, that, although he was rich, he became poor for your sake, so that you should become rich through his poverty.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 146:2, 5-6, 7, 8-9
2 I will praise Yahweh all my life, I will make music to my God as long as I live.
5 How blessed is he who has Jacob’s God to help him, his hope is in Yahweh his God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. He keeps faith for ever,
7 gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry; Yahweh sets prisoners free.
8 Yahweh gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down.
9 Yahweh protects the stranger, he sustains the orphan and the widow. Yahweh loves the upright,but he frustrates the wicked.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 5:43-48
43 ‘You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy.
44 But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;
45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much?
47 And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional?
48 Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Theme: Love your enemies and pray for them
What makes the disciples of Jesus different from others and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness, forbearance, and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us.
Overcome evil with good
Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.
Christ’s redeeming love and mercy frees us from all hatred and malice towards others
How can we possibly love those who cause us harm or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?
Allow the Holy Spirit to change and transform the way you think, judge, and treat others
Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness – not lacking in what is essential.” God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to do his will and to live as his sons and daughters (2 Peter 1:3). He knows our weakness and sinfulness better than we do. And he assures us of his love, mercy, and grace to follow in his ways. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to change and transform you in the image of the Father that you may walk in the joy and freedom of the Gospel.
“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.”