VII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 corinthians 3:16-23; matthew 5:38-48
wade boggs, former boston red sox baseball player, hated going to yankee stadium… because of one yankee fan. the guy had a box seat close to the field, and he would torment boggs by shouting obscenities and insults.
one day before the game, as boggs was warming up, the fan began his yelling routine: «boggs, you stink» and so on. boggs decided he’d had enough. he walked to the man and said: «hey fella, are you the guy who’s always yelling at me?» the man said: «yeah, it’s me. what are you going to do about it?»
wade took a new baseball out of his pocket, autographed it, tossed it to the man, and went back to the field to continue his warm-up. the man never yelled at boggs again; in fact, he became one of his biggest fans at yankee stadium (cf. paul thompson, «devotional» in novato star, 30 august 2000).
when someone insults/hurts/harms us, our natural inclination is to retaliate and to get even. boggs gave up his natural urge and reached out through a simple gesture to the obnoxious yankee fan… and made him «his» fan!
this what the first reading and the gospel ask us to do… to reach out to our enemies in forgiveness and love.
love is not liking or affection; it is willing the good of the other. in today’s gospel text love consists in not retaliating; in going the extra mile; in praying for one’s enemies.
why ought we to forgive and love those who harm us?
because this is the way GOD in JESUS acts… and we are made in his image and likeness, and we are called to be like him! «be holy for holy, for i, the LORD, your GOD, am holy» (first reading) and «be perfect (some translations use the word «compassionate». JESUS calls his disciples to perfection in love and gave us an example to follow!), just as your heavenly FATHER is perfect» (gospel).
yes, this is a tough ask. but the call to be disciples is not for wimps! the challenge is to go beyond the ordinary, to go beyond the law.
when someone insults/hurts/harms me, what will i toss back – insults or love?
do i need to reach out and be reconciled with someone? if yes, how will i do it?
how will i strive to be holy and compassionate in the week ahead?