27 February, Saturday — Standing Out, Standing Up

Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent

Dt 26:16-19
Mt 5:43-48

You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Today’s gospel readings are an extension of yesterday’s, particularly in its call for us to love our enemies. Indeed, both readings are asking us to forgive our enemies and to love everyone.

To illustrate what He means, Jesus gives a list of examples, all of them essentially describing how Christian love runs counter to secular love. Where society expects us to love our friends and hate our enemies, God expects us to love both equally. Where society expects us to greet only our brothers and sisters, God asks even more of us when He asks us to greet everyone.

This is the contradictory love that God and the Church requires of us — a love that is inclusive and all-encompassing. In a world that is increasingly fractious and polarised, we find ourselves gravitating towards groups and communities that conform to our self-identities and beliefs.

In today’s gospel readings, God is asking us to be different from everyone use. He is asking us to stand out from the crowd, even if that means making it easier for others to pelt stones at us or pour scorn and ridicule upon us. No matter. God’s love is greater than all this; God’s love is greater than even our self-love.

In a society that is increasingly exclusive, do we dare to be inclusive? In a society that values in-groups, do we dare set aside our group identities and be one with everyone? And if we do dare, can we then muster the strength to put all this in to practice?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the strength and wisdom to live in accordance to Your laws and teachings.  

Thanksgiving: We give thanks that God has chosen use to be His children, that He has set us apart and gives Himself to us as a holy example of spiritual perfection.  

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