Sunday, February 23, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, February 23, 2014 with Relection

1ST READING - Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy. 17 “You shall not bear hatred for your brother and sister in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. 18 Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
P S A L M - Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
R: The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. 2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (R) He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion. (R) Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. 10 Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes. (R) 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (R)
2nd READING - 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
16 Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: “He catches the wise in their own ruses,” 20 and again: “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” 21 So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, 22 Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, 23 and you to Christ, and Christ to God.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
Matthew 5:38-48
38 Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. 40 If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. 41 Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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.46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? 48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


Nanay was a tough woman. A true-blooded disciplinarian. Strict and straightforward. Hers was the only voice we would obey in the house.  I have a half-brother, who is as old as I am and almost looks like me but looks exactly like Tatay. Nanay knew about him but would rather not talk about the issue. My siblings and I would go out with him in secret, lest we catch her ire. He and his mother were Nanay’s enemies. Until she attended the Catholic Life in the Spirit Seminar and joined a local Charismatic community. She mellowed down.

       Then one day, my half-brother decided to pay me a visit in my parish. I was out. Nanay was there. Tatay was there. Tatay introduced them to each other. My half-brother told them about his forthcoming wedding.

       Consequently, Nanay required all my siblings to attend the wedding of our brother (no longer half-brother). She also did. Face to face with the other woman, she initiated an exchange of pleasantries. Later on, at the baptism of my brother’s son, Nanay was the doting mother who entertained the guests and supervised the food. She had learned to love her enemies. When Nanay died, the first floral arrangement came from this brother of mine with the words, “Alaala ng Anak, Manugang at mga Apo.”

       I credit Nanay’s change of heart to the new life in the Spirit she received. But more than this, she discovered the liberating effect of forgiveness. While it is easier and fulfilling to get even, there is untold joy in being able to “love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.” The challenge is to love those for whom we harbor ill feelings and who are most difficult to love, accept and forgive. Doing so makes us true children of the Father.

       A friend once asked me why she always seems to cross paths with a person she hates. The more that she wishes to avoid her, the more she would accidentally meet her. I told her it’s God who makes them meet — for them to make time for forgiveness and for old wounds to be healed.Fr. Erick Y. Santos, OFS
REFLECTION QUESTION: Have you experienced the liberating effect of forgiving another person unconditionally?
Lord Jesus, touch my heart and soften it so that I may learn to forgive.

St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr, pray for us.

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