7th Sunday Year A
February 23, 2014
SPEAK TO ALL AND TELL THEM LIKE IT IS!
Almost everything now attracts controversy. You say your piece and you are immediately branded as liberal, conservative, out of touch with the times, medieval, a bigot, a clerico-fascist, a wimp, stupid, an ignoramus, etc. Labels abound in this image-conscious world that always seeks for convenient compromises (read: a position that tries to please everyone, but ends up satisfying no one).
St. Paul today refers to one that he probably was called as such so many times after his conversion. He was branded a “fool.” A fool was apparently one who did not agree with the popular vote, who went against the tide of public opinion. Let me give you one issue that was, and still is, popular … “Kill the bastards!” people now say about heinous criminals. Then, as now, revenge is mistaken for retribution. “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.” So said the Old Law! So what is wrong with the old law? Why fix something if it ain’t broke?
But today, the Lord does fix something for our ultimate good. He goes beyond retribution. He goes far beyond revenge; even far beyond strict justice. He preaches the truth about who He is, ultimately, and what we ought to become, too. And what he counsels us is to be holy just as the Lord is holy.
The issue of sacredness of human life is as fractious and divisive now as the issue about mining, climate change, and the use of non-renewable energy sources. One cannot open one’s mouth without attracting haters and naysayers, and mind you, haters are becoming more odious by the day, in their language, choice of words, and tone.
But Christian morality, the issue of objective rightness or wrongness of any human act, is not to be identified with either liberalism or conservatism; not with any ideology or economic doctrine. Moral truth has nothing to do with political expediency or political color.
And the issue of life is of paramount importance in today’s liturgy. This much, the first reading today tells us: love is not an ideology nor an economic doctrine. Revenge is not part of the discussion on love. I know it sounds strange and foolish as this has nothing to do with popular perception and acclamation in our times. You are a fool if you don’t cancel out all criminals, real or potential; in the present or in the future.
But wisdom from above tells us that we all are temples of God, and that our bodies and our lives are considered sacred, no matter if pro-choice people choose their bodies only, over that of others, including and most especially bodies of unborn or just born children who cannot yet vote in favor of their survival.
We who value life must really be fools. There are just too many people in the world now. They all threaten to lower the quality of life. The “wise” thing to do is to drastically lessen people by killing them or, at the very least, preventing them from becoming fully grown people, except that no one of us now, who think that way, would ever volunteer to be the first whose life ought to be forcibly taken against my will.
An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth … That must have been a great improvement then! At least the whole clan or whole family tree won’t have to die on account of sweet revenge. But today, the Lord does not want mere improvements or cosmetic changes. The Lord wants to replace all this hatred and spirit of revenge with what ultimately would benefit all of humanity – the commandment of Love. Love goes beyond mere retribution, and definitely trumps all forms of revenge. Love means going positive … going the extra mile … praying for one’s enemies … loving even those who persecute you.
Now, I assure you, this is a tall order. This, too, is difficult. Is this possible at all?
Good question! The world has been asking the same question for ages. I have been asking myself this question so often, for if I may rant righteously, I would like to say that the world isn’t fair … Life isn’t fair. And nice girls finish last while good boys seldom make it to the top of the heap. The worldly wise with all their strategy of cutting corners and all, do get closer to the top. The really wise in the Biblical sense, chances are, won’t get anywhere near the coveted top.
But hey! This is what discipleship is all about … becoming fools for Christ’s sake, and getting a stake on rewards that are simply out of this world! Which do you choose?