Only With Faith

by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB

Brothers and Sisters in Faith, the readings on this  7th Sunday in Ordinary Time ‘A’ offer at first glance  challenges all but impossible to meet. Our gentle and  good Jesus, as Matthew’s Gospel presents him, has  been advising on the Christian way of life, and now  he makes demands of us seemingly far beyond what any ordinary human being can answer to.  

First, note that Jesus asks these things after he has  worked great signs for the people. He has pleaded  for faith in him. He expects us to believe and accept  what he teaches. Second, in her wisdom, the Church  knows that this 7th Sunday precedes Ash Wednesday and the season of repentance and offerings to  God in atonement for our sins and the sins of all the  world. Third, Jesus never asked anything of others  that he was not willing to offer himself. His Passion  and Cross demonstrates that exceedingly well.  

So, he says, “Offer no resistance to one who is evil.”  “If one strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other  as well.” Or to paraphrase, ‘If you are being sued, give willingly even more than you are sued  for.’ “Should anyone press you into service for one  mile, go for two miles.” “Give…and do not turn your  back on the one who wants to borrow.” “Love  your enemies…pray for those who persecute you.” 

Each of these things and others which he suggests, Jesus willingly did. He called on us as children of  God to imitate his Father who showers rain, sunlight,  (and his gifts) upon the good and the bad. From his  Cross He begged forgiveness on those who were  cruelly torturing him. To us at the Sermon on the  Mount he said, “If you love those who love you, what  recompense will you have?” That is, recommence in  heaven. ‘Tax collectors also love their own.’ 

Jesus did not say that all this must be the lot of every  Christian all during one’s life, but he did say, “Should  any of this ever befall you in the course of life, as I accepted God’s will for me, so join your suffering to  mine. Accept it as God’s will for you, and we will  meet joyfully in heaven.” You and I will never be perfect in thus life, and that is quite for sure. But when  Jesus said, “Be prefect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” that surely will be the fullness of our joy  when we are joined with the brilliant light, love, life, and perfection of God in Eternal Life. Do we trust in  Him?