Quote or Joke of the Day:
Truths that little children have learned:
You can’t trust dogs to watch your food!
Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair!
Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NAB Mt 5:43-48)
Did you notice this series of verses left out the end of the quote from the first sentence. There was no “as yourself” at the end of the quotation. There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy. The “neighbor” of this “love” commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. Both in the Old Testament, and in the Qumran (1QS 9:21), hatred of evil persons is assumed to be permitted and all right. Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy, and the persecutor. As children of God, we must imitate the example of the Jesus. Christianity is purposely not aggressive by nature and intent. Aggression displayed is transformed into a strategy of winning through the wisdom of love.
Jesus distinguishes between earthly rewards, and Godly rewards. The tax collectors were Jews of the region, who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs. Such tax collectors paid a fixed amount of money for the right to collect customs duties within their districts. Whatever they collected above this amount was profit to them. The abuse of extortion was widespread among tax collectors. Hence, tax collectors were regarded as sinners and outcasts of society, and were disgraced, along with their families. Tax collectors were a symbol of low morality, being often associated with extortion and collaborating in the Roman occupation of Palestine. Tax collectors were hated publicly, verbally, and sometimes violently. It would have been difficult to be hated more than a tax collector. Jesus ate with tax collectors frequently, during His ministry. He instructs that loving those that hate you, increases God’s love for you. Loving our enemies is a must for all Christians. Remember, all people are God’s creation, and we should see Jesus in everyone we meet. If you don’t see Jesus in everyone, get your vision checked in the confessional, and at mass.
Jesus’ disciples must not be content with the usual standards of conduct in society. In the time of Jesus, the “greeting” mentioned above, was a prayer of blessing on the one greeted. In the last sentence of this reading, the word “perfect” was used. In the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew; here and in Matthew 19:21. In Luke’s gospel, the parallel verse (Luke 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful. The idea of perfection for the Jews of that time, was a man who observed the whole law without exception. We need to transform ourselves to be like Christ, and follow His whole laws. The Franciscans’ have a saying: “commit yourself to daily conversion.”
“Lord, I love you above all. Help me to love all others as much as I love you. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bl. Sebastian of Aparicio
Sebastian lived from 1502 to 1600, and he was a bridge builder mostly in Mexico. At age 72, he distributed all he had among the poor and entered the Franciscans as a brother. He is known as the “Angel of Mexico” and is the patron of travelers.
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).