Liturgy of the Sunday

Deel Op

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John, bishop and martyr (†155).


First Reading

Leviticus 19,1-2.17-18

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 'Speak to the whole community of Israelites and say: "Be holy, for I, Yahweh your God, am holy. You will not harbour hatred for your brother. You will reprove your fellow-countryman firmly and thus avoid burdening yourself with a sin. You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbour as yourself. I am Yahweh.

Psalmody

Psalm 102

Antiphon

The tenderness of the Lord is as great as the heavens.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,

who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion,

who fills your life with good things,
renewing your youth like an eagle's.

The Lord does deeds of justice,
gives judgement for all who are oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses
and his deeds to Israel's sons.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.

His wrath will come to an end;
he will not be angry for ever.

He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

For as the heavens are high above the earth
so strong is his love for those who fear him .

As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.

As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him;

for he knows of what we are made,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flowers like the flower of the field;

the wind blows and he is gone
and his place never sees him again.

But the love of the Lord is everlasting
upon those who hold him in fear;

his justice reaches out to children's children
when they keep his covenant in truth,
when they keep his will in their mind.

The Lord has set his sway in heaven
and his kingdom is ruling over all.

Give thanks to the Lord, all his angels,
mighty in power, fulfilling his word,
who heed the voice of his word.

Give thanks to the Lord, all his hosts,
his servants who do his will.

Give thanks to the Lord, all his works,
in every place where he rules.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord!

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 3,16-23

Do you not realise that you are a temple of God with the Spirit of God living in you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy that person, because God's temple is holy; and you are that temple. There is no room for self-delusion. Any one of you who thinks he is wise by worldly standards must learn to be a fool in order to be really wise. For the wisdom of the world is folly to God. As scripture says: He traps the crafty in the snare of their own cunning and again: The Lord knows the plans of the wise and how insipid they are. So there is to be no boasting about human beings: everything belongs to you, whether it is Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, the world, life or death, the present or the future -- all belong to you; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 5,38-48

'You have heard how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away. 'You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

Throughout these Sundays the liturgy invites us to meditate on the Sermon on the Mount, which Jesus closes with the words about a house built on solid rock, as if to emphasize the strength of these words, which, if put in practice, render the house secure even against the winds and storms that buffet our lives. Those who rely on these words are therefore wise and realistic. In them is hidden the true wisdom of life, different from the common sentiment, and which only brings the world away from the violence of evil. It is in this perspective that Jesus, wanting to carry out the Law, says: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also." Jesus refers to the ancient law of an eye for an eye, a rule aimed at mitigating and regulating vengeance. In ancient times - in truth, it still happens today - the spirit of vengeance pushes men to be relentless, ferocious to the point of inhumanity. The law of an eye for an eye was aimed at limiting the arbitrary acts of vengeance. It therefore established a proportionate reparation: a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye.
For Jesus, this disposition, which could have made some sense, had to be eradicated: not only must we not take revenge, but we must not "resist the evildoer." It is the struggle to unravel the evil that begins in one's own heart. It is a battle that believers are first called to fight. Patriarch Athenagoras, the great believer he was, emphasized it for himself. "The hardest war," he said, "is the war against oneself. We must disarm ourselves. I myself, I fought this war for years. It was terrible. But now I am unarmed. I am no longer afraid of anything, because love has driven away fear."
It is the way that the Gospel offers to lead us to a meek encounter with the other, to patience in dialogue, to generosity in being with others. It is on this generous way that the even the hearts of the violent are disarmed. These words of the Gospel allow love to bear fruits of peace and harmony. Jesus goes on to say, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies." With these words, Jesus erases the word "enemy" from his vocabulary, leaving only the other one, the neighbour. Yes, for Jesus there are no enemies, everyone is a neighbour to love. So must it be also for the disciples. He not only asks them to forgive every offense - which is already a great step forward - but he demands that they also love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. And he sets an example first. When he was on the cross, he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34).
Jesus wants to broaden the hearts of people, breaking down the boundaries and limits that are at the beginning of enmity. The Gospel requires generous witness. And Jesus emphasizes this diversity: "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" Jesus invites the disciples to a high life. He knows our weakness and our sin well but does not cease to exhort us: "Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." Indeed, even in the time of Moses the Lord exhorted His people: "Be holy, because I, the Lord, am holy." And holiness is charity, it is love without borders that drives the disciples to come out of themselves and to go to the peripheries of this world. The imitation of Christ, the new man, a model of true humanity, becomes the simple path that the Gospel puts within the reach of each of us.