About a month ago, on the 3rd Sunday of the year to be exact, we celebrated the Sunday of the Word of God. We reminded ourselves of the center of the word of God in our lives. When we meditate on the Word of God, we situate ourselves within the framework of His immense goodness and grace. Today’s readings show us the way to follow to attain a life of holiness. We often think that attaining holiness is a difficult task that is beyond the reach of man. We see it as a goal that is too far away or too high for us to reach like a massive pile of stones that we cannot clear. Since we see perfection as something too difficult, we are inclined to settle for less. We content ourselves with relaxing and making the minimum efforts to be holy. Beloved in Christ, holiness is integral to the Christian vocation. From the moment we were baptised, we became incorporated into the Body of Christ as holy and pure building blocks. Constant effort and reliance on the grace of God make holiness attainable. Frequent communion and confession, fuelled by a solid sacramental life, consolidate our resolve to be Christ-like.
Yes, holiness must be lived daily. It is a movement towards God’s plan for our salvation that is sustained by His immense grace. This is where the readings of today are of critical value. They give us stepping stones to holiness. They teach us that holiness is attainable if we make our daily actions opportunities to encounter the Lord.
The first reading states the ways we can become holy through our daily activities and interactions. We must be kind to one another and practise fraternal correction. Rather than take the path of vengeance, we must forgive and love others as God loves us. A careful look at the reading shows us that we are often the causes of our own problems. The anxiety and stress we feel around people that offend us are often products of the ill feelings we bear against them. Throw the trash of hatred away and free your mind to be filled with God’s blessings that flow from genuine love and service to others.
Jesus takes this message deeper in the Gospel of today. When he says to the people not to take revenge on those that wrong them, he taught them the value of kindness even to one’s perceived persecutors or enemies. He gives examples when he says that whenever someone forced them to carry a load for a mile, they must go two miles. At that time, if a soldier placed his sword on the shoulder of a person, the soldier could command the person to do anything. By telling the people to go two miles, Jesus teaches us that we must not let whatever anyone does fill us with anger and hatred. When you hate anyone, you hurt yourself more than the other person. When you hate someone, you give the person power over you. The person has power over your sleep, your blood pressure, your happiness and even your salvation. If someone who means you harm knew that they had this kind of effect on you, they would dance for joy. Let us take counsel from a Greek proverb: “The wise man will always suffer wrong rather than do wrong.”
Besides, kindness towards one who wrongs us helps us as well as the other person. Respond with love. As St. Paul teaches us: “Do not let evil defeat you: instead, conquer evil with good” (Rom 12:21). The second reading reminds us that we belong to Christ. We are temples of God’s Spirit and we must direct everything we do towards Christ and let what we do to others flow from our encounter with Christ. When we meditate deeply on the Word of God, we would encounter many tips that make our lives better and help others to appreciate that the Christian life is truly worth living. All we need to do is take up the task one stone of effort at a time and the giant rubble of doubt will be removed.
Let us pray: Lord, teach us to love others as you love us. May we always be kind to others and repay evil with good. May God bless every member of the Ascension Family through Christ our Lord. Amen.