From Our Pastor: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend’s readings begin with everyone’s favorite book of the Bible!!! Leviticus! Leviticus calls us today to be Holy, as God is Holy. That’s a tough call, but a good one. Seek the mind and the will of God. God then calls us to not bear hatred, even if someone has harmed you. “Do not incur sin because of [someone else’s sin.]” I just saw this meme pop up the other day that stated, “When you choose to forgive those who hurt you, you take away their power.” I find that phrase quite scriptural and powerful. We are told in Leviticus again, “do not take revenge,” and, “cherish no grudge.” This plagues our world today. So many hold on to grudges and seek constant revenge.
If revenge is sought the violence and sin never end. If grudges are held, the hurt and division continues in us and in the world. Vengeance is for God alone. Anytime that God speaks of vengeance in the scriptures, He says, “I will take vengeance.” or “I have taken vengeance.” Vengeance is for God alone to decide. We are called to mercy and forgiveness and love. Leviticus ends today, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Let go of the hurts and grudges. Quit holding onto them thinking you are hurting someone else, as all you are doing is hurting yourself and allowing someone else to continue to hurt you. STOP! Stop harboring anger against someone who got a bid for business ahead of you or your family. Stop harboring hatred or bitterness towards that sibling that cheated you or stole or took money from a will. Let it go! Stop holding onto even grave hurts of someone who took the life of one of your loved ones. Even though you feel justified as a grave evil was done, you are not, and all you are doing is allowing that person to continue to hurt you. All you are doing is allowing division and evil to remain. Let love and mercy and forgiveness conquer evil and division. If the psalmist tells us that the Lord is kind and merciful, which is good news for us, then so must we be kind and merciful, as we are called to be Holy as God is Holy. The gospel challenges us in this even more. If someone harms you or persecutes you, not only forgive them but give more. If they strike your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If they ask for your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Radical love in the face of persecution not only is powerful, but it is transformative. Do not just love like the world but love like God.
As we prepare for Lent that begins YES, THIS WEEK! Let us think of what penances we will do this Lent. What will you give up? What will you do extra? What extra will you give in alms to the Lord? These are the areas we should all be doing. Don’t just give up something this Lent, let it be meaningful. Then don’t stop there, what devotion or prayer or loving act will you do extra? Maybe whatever you would have spent on whatever you gave up give to the Church or to the poor. Give extra during this Lenten season, especially if it is tough. Maybe give extra of your time in service at least. In Lent we have an abundance of opportunity for prayer and devotion to the Lord. Be deliberate about Sunday Mass always. Come to daily mass (or even just one daily mass a week), rosary on Mondays, Liturgy of the hours (no longer just on Sunday, but every day throughout Lent), stations of the cross on Friday, adoration on Wednesdays, etc. etc. etc. There are so many opportunities in the parish to challenge yourself in prayer this Lent. Add scripture reading to your daily life. Start the bible in a year podcast with Fr. Michael Schmitz. Start it today. Start the catechism in a year podcast. Use the Hallow app. Use the formed app. Use the parish app for continued prayer. Read the Sunday readings sometime during the week BEFORE Sunday. Challenge yourself this Lent.
Ash Wednesday, we have many opportunities for ashes, 6:30, 8:35, Noon, 5:30, and 7. Noon and 7 are quicker ash services and not mass for those who need to stop and pause on lunch or before the day ends. See this Lent as a time of challenge and discipline and new beginnings. Make it tough! Make it fruitful!
-Rev. Steven Arisman