Seventh Sunday in the Ordinary TimeA
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Seventh Sunday in the Ordinary TimeA

Sunday of the 7 OTA

 

Readings: Lev 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Cor 3:16-23; Mt 5:38-48.

1/ Reading I: RSV Leviticus 19:1 And the LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” 17 "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

2/ Reading II: RSV 1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is holy, and that temple you are. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," 20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21 So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; 23 and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

3/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” 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 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward has you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


I. THEME: To be holy is our vocation and duty.

 

            Many of us pay attention only to Christ’s redemption and not to his sanctification. As a result, we pay so much attention to confession and healing, but not enough to practicing virtues to become more holy every day. This attitude confines us in the sinful circle which is sin, repentance and forgiveness; but doesn’t help us to escape this circle to reach the holiness which God calls and equips us to be.

            Today readings call us to pay a special attention to our vocation to become holy. In the first reading, God commanded people through Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel: You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” In the second reading, St. Paul clearly recognized God’s sanctification on people through the sending of the Holy Spirit upon them. He sanctifies people, first of all, by the word of truth which Christ left behind; then all the gifts which He bestows on them through all the sacraments which Jesus established. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly differentiates two lifestyles, one according to God’s wisdom and the other according to worldly wisdom. In order to be holy, people must forsake the latter and live according to the former one.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”

1.1/ The reason for becoming holy: God gives people the reason why people must become holy through the words He spoke to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel: You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” The Lord is extremely holy, He can’t live near sins. The sixth Beatitude also says, “Blessed those who are pure for they shall see God.” The Israelites are God’s people; they must become holy if they want Him to be their God.

            The Jewish tradition believes anyone who sees God shall certainly die, except those whom God chose and sanctified them. We can illustrate a case of the prophet Isaiah’s vocation. When he saw the Lord God appears to him in a vision in the temple, he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" But one of the seraphim flew to him, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. The seraphim touched his mouth with the burning coal, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven" (Isa 6:5-7).

1.2/ How can people become holy? According to today passage, people must do two things:

            (1) To live according to the truth: God commands the Israelites through Moses, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him.” To help others to live according to the truth, all who are responsible must do fraternal correction out of charity; not to quietly let others living in the wrong way. If people don’t do this, they are responsible for others’ destruction. To correct others is a very delicate matter; it must be done in a right way and for the sake of the others’ goodness.

            (2) To love others as themselves: God continues to command, “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” From the O.T.’s time, two commandments, to love God above all (Dt 6:5) and to love others as yourself (Lev 19:18), were already emphasized; not to wait until the N.T.’s time. Jesus is the one who put them together to help people to easily remember that they are the foundation of all God’s commandments. God’s people aren’t permitted to get revenge nor to hate others, but to love and to help them. This is the way for people to be holy like God.

2/ Reading II: “You are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you.”

2.1/ The reason for becoming holy: St. Paul gives the Corinthian faithful the reason, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.”

            According to Paul, when a person receives the sacrament of Baptism, he becomes a God’s child, also receives the Holy Spirit and becomes a member of the body which is the Church with Christ as the head (1 Cor. 12:27). As a part of Christ’s body, he must try to live as holy as he can, because “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26).

            In the Letter to the Ephesians, the author also used the image of the temple to express the relationship between a person and Christ, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).

2.2/ How is one considered as destroying God’s temple? St. Paul lists two things in today passage:

            (1) Do not live according to God’s truth: The problem of the Corinthians is that they are very proud of their wisdom. To help them to recognize their problem, Paul differentiated between the two wisdoms: God’s and worldly wisdom. He says, “Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."”

            We can draw out two things from this passage. First of all, living holy demands us to become fools in the world; the faithful are required to live completely opposite with what the world esteems, such as: power, fame, money and fleshy desires. Secondly, if the faithful decide to live according to worldly wisdom, they can never become holy.

            (2) Live selfishly and divisively: Three last sentences of today passage need to be carefully explained. Paul concluded, “So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.”

            - Living according to worldly wisdom shall lead to division because everyone want to protect their opinions and rights, and division reduce the strength of both individual and community. However, living according to God’s wisdom shall lead to unity and increase the strength of both individual and community.

            - Living according to worldly wisdom shall also lead people far away from God, the cause of all future and present activity, life and death. Therefore, let no one be proud of having the worldly wisdom, but because of living according to God’s wisdom, by imitating Christ’s life.

 

3/ Gospel: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

           

3.1/ We need to differentiate between two lifestyles: God’s and worldly lifestyle.

            The law “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is called Lex Talionis, the most ancient law in the history of human beings. People found this law in the Code of Hammurabi, who ruled Babylon from 2285-2242 BC. From that time until now, this law has become the basic law for most of the nations’ code throughout the world. The positive thing of this law is it protects justice for all people; but its negative is it often increases revenge and leads to more bloody battles.

            In today passage, Jesus continues his preaching about the kingdom of God. He teaches his disciples a lifestyle which isn’t based only on justice, but also on charity, sacrifice and forgiveness, “But I say to you, “Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.””

            First of all, we recognize this lifestyle is totally contrasted with the worldly lifestyle; but it can wipe out all revenges and help people to become friends with each other. Many people thought it is impossible for them to do it; but God would not command people to do what is impossible for them to do. He demands the faithful to let his charity permeate all their life and to put their trust completely in his providence before they can achieve his command.

3.2/ Why do we need to live according to God’s way? Jesus gives his disciples the clear reason for this heroic lifestyle—to love enemies and to pray for those who persecute you, “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust… You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

            To become perfect must be the goal of the Christian life; however, this is a process which requires one’s entire life. Jesus also gives two reasons to discredit the worldly lifestyle:

            (1) “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” God’s children can’t live like tax-collectors who also love those who love them. They should love everybody, even their enemies.

            (2) “And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” God’s children can’t live like the Gentiles who give saluted gestures only to those who saluted them. They should greet all, even their enemies.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We are called to become holy every day. The model of our perfection is God, our heavenly Father.

            - To become holy, we must avoid the worldly lifestyle in order to live according to God’s teaching. We must live according to God’s truth and love all people.

            - We can’t become holy without God’s help: He guides us with His word and sanctifies us with the Holy Spirit’s gifts through the sacraments. Without God’s help, no one can become holy before God.