Our readings this week continue the themes of the Sermon on the Mount, especially the message of non-violence and love even of one’s enemies. Lets confess any violence or hate in our lives.
There’s a fine scene in the film about Mahatma Ghandi. During his non-violent campaign for independence in India, a Christian advisor asked him to be more militant. “What about turning the other cheek as Christ teaches”, Ghandi said. “Ah”, the Christian said, “we don’t take that literally”. He found Christ’s words too challenging, Ghandi didn’t. During the India-Pakistan war Ghandi fasted until both sides ended the war. Ghandi, an unbeliever proved that Christ’s way of non-violence can end the vicious cycle of ongoing conflicts. Violence begets more violence and the only sane way is to get off the wagon. We are called by baptism to live his blessed way of peace, and loving even one’s enemies should make that peace a reality in our lives. For as our Lady of Medugorje says world peace begins with peace in each human heart. This leads to right relations with God and fellow humans and breaks the cycle of hatred, replaces it with gentle love.
Ghandi found Christ’s teachings in the sermon on the Mount indescribably beautiful in this and other areas of turning the human heart to peace and love. So should we. For they’re a charter to transform the world into God’s holy kingdom.
Let me tell you of two other people I knew who realized this. First a young student doing theology. She told me that what changed her into a fervent follower of Christ and helped her bring her family back to the church, was this message of unconditional love. “Go out as a priest”, she said, “with this message”, God’s love should turn our hearts to love. Young people, especially, abandon the church because they sin and think God rejects them, tell them He doesn’t, He loves them no matter what. Another example is my nephew’s fiancee. I met them for a chat before the wedding. She told of a vision she had. God said, “tell people how special each of them is to God regardless”.
And that’s what Christ’s new-commandment Sermon is about. Being blessed in acting like God whose sun shines on good and bad alike; loving one’s enemies, turning the other cheek to end the cycle of violence, lending without hope of return, being compassionate rather than judgmental, forgiving freely and giving generously to all who ask. And we do this both for a heavenly reward and to make us happy in this life too. For Christ says that the love we give we’ll more than get back: “a measure pressed down and running over will be poured into your lap”.
That is, at Christ’s Sermon’s core is the real peaceful, loving and generous heart. I say real for love today can mean anything from casual sex to vague sentiment. Jesus spells out clearly what love means from God’s higher viewpoint. It means embracing enemies to heal our worlds violence. It means giving to all freely. You may say con-men will have a field day but what Christ asks is non-calculating giving love to redeem the world
This means treating others as you would like them to treat us, with tender care. Being compassionate, non-judgmental and forgiving from the heart. For only thus will we the blessed children of Christ’s new kingdom and help him redeem a fallen violent world. For the fruits of worldly greed and violence leave us empty at last but He is lord of love, peace, grace and happiness both for this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people called to live Christ’s way of love, generosity, forgiveness and peace lets profess our faith…
Prayers of the faithful
And as God’s people we pray for the purity of heart that we need.
For our Holy Father and all church leaders, may they lead the world in the way of non-violence, peace and reconciliation..
For civil leaders North and South that they may continue to promote and uphold the peace process and foster lasting reconciliation among all the communities on this Island..
For our youth that they may recognize that God loves them no matter what they do; may they respond to his love by living their faith in worship of God, peace, and generous sharing love..
For ourselves, may we maintain an atmosphere of love and peace in our homes, with our children, spouse, relations and neighbors..
For the sick, especially those bed-ridden or in special need of our care, that we may reach out to them with our time and love..
For the dead that they may come to the everlasting peace and happiness of heaven with the help of our charitable prayers..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ, the Prince of Peace for this world and forever and ever, amen.
According to group of local children Our Lady has appeared recently in Medugorje, part of a war-ravaged region of Europe. You do not have to believe in such private visions but certainly the message the children proclaim as coming from her is very Gospel. She calls all the people of the world to pray and work for peace, and like Christ in our gospel she says that such peace must begin in each human heart. Lets pray for that peace in ourselves, our community, Island and in the world now..Hail Mary