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Author Topic: February 27, 2010 Saturday of the First Week of Lent, St26, Ps119, Matt 5  (Read 1721 times)
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« on: February 27, 2010, 07:47:55 AM »

The readings for today are at:

Until just now I didn't realize I skipped yesterday's, but I'll look at these readings first then maybe get back to Friday's.

The first reading is all about following rules.  When I was little, I was taught that following rules was the way to please God.  We were never really taught about the way Jesus "thumbed his nose" at scrupulous rule-following as impossible, insufficient and even hypocritical under the New Covenant.  I kind of had to figure that out for myself, with the help of too few homilies on the topic.

Here's an example of what I mean by impossible:

For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. - James 2:10

Or how about Rom 5:17-21:
In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.  For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.  The law entered in 6 so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So because of Adam we all had the cards stacked against us.  This kind of bugs me because the first reading says that sincerely following the rules is pleasing to God, but then we learned that following the rules is insufficient for salvation, if no other reason than we can't undo what Adam did by following any rules except the two "great" ones that Christ gave.

As for the Gospel reading, I have always been intrigued by this command to hate one's enemies, and how that reconciles with the Two Great Commands that Christ gave us, about loving one's neighbor as yourself.  Loving our enemies is a challenge to us to learn to love freely and openly.  I'm not sure it's actually part of the Two Great Commands.  I say this because Jesus actually qualified what he meant by "neighbor," upon request.

When I went to search for the Two Commands to comments on that aspect of it, I actually found 9 references to it, including one from the Old Testament (Leviticus)!   If you want to see them all, they are at:

Jesus does not actually say in so many words, "love your enemy as yourself."  It seems there are different levels of love.  After all, Jesus once said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13.  If there is "greater" love than there must be "lesser" love -- so "love" isn't really a one-size-fits-all.  One command, but not one "size."  No, in at least nine places in the Bible we are told to "love your neighbor as yourself."

So I submit there is a difference between loving one's neighbor as yourself, and loving one's enemy.  Also to back this up, I present the "clarification" that one expert in the law asked Jesus for and received.  That is in Luke 10:29.  When he asked Jesus "who is my neighbor?" Jesus launched the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The one who stopped to help, even though a Samaritan, acted like a "neighbor."  Therefore, I submit that the Two Commands were thereby qualified to mean loving those as ourselves, who would do us a good favor as well.  Apparently loving one's enemies is a different form of love... not necessarily needed for salvation.  Given that, I don't think we can hate our enemies, either -- but that doesn't mean we have to "turn the other cheek" and let them defeat us, does it?

Does this sound as mixed up to anyone else as it does to me?  I'm not sure whether I'm mixed up, or if the Bible is.  But then that raises a whole different topic.


... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2010, 08:27:40 PM »

I guess I have considered "neighbor" to include both friend and enemy. To me the "love thy neighbor as thyself" command is one of recognizing that even if I don't particularly get along with someone they are just as beloved by God as me. And if that is the case, I try to at least wish for them the same blessings and sense of peace that I would wish for myself.

I certainly don't see the command as being one to allow people to mistreat us, though there is assuredly another place where we are in fact told to "turn the other cheek". Even that one though I see as being willing to suffer rather than further disturb the peace by adding to the violence. I have to admit that I struggle with the concept a great deal as, to me, there are times when standing by and watching abuse or those suffering the ravages of war in the name of "nonviolence" is simply becoming complicit in the abuse, or even the slaughter of the innocents. I tend to be a "just war" proponent when it comes to the big picture while recognizing there are few wars that are or can be "just".

I do know that my better self wants to believe that if I sow nothing but peace that the world will be a better place, even if it involves some suffering to get there. The condition of the world really doesn't give us many opportunities to even experiement with the idea though, at least not if you live in one of the "civilized" first world countries. It is quite likely a completely different story when one is in a refugee camp or fleeing potential genocide and truly helpless to defend yourself.

This may be the "commandment" I most wish I truly understood and knew the "right" answer to. As it is I don't even have a good sense of it when I do the WWJD test in many cases.


"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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