"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 18, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Leviticus

(Chapter 19:1-2, 17-18)

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” This is the beginning of a whole series of laws that Moses is proclaiming to the people, including how they are to treat one another. The reading ends with one of the most important: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus taught the same law many years later, and it is still most important today. Imagine how many millions of lives could have been saved and wars avoided if that “law above all laws” had been not only proclaimed but lived.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13)

“The Lord is kind and merciful…. He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.” Do you know this God? This is the God of Moses and of Jesus. This is our God.

A reading from St. Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians

(Chapter 3:16-23)

Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth, “Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” Throughout the history of the Jewish people, they lived in awe of the temple in Jerusalem, and yet, their holy temple was destroyed. Paul is telling them that the true temple of God is within them, because the very Spirit of God lives in them.

This wisdom that the Spirit of God lives in us is a wisdom that is often neglected or not understood. In Paul’s day, there were many other wisdom teachers, Greek philosophers and so-called mystics, and he wants folks to know that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”

In our own day, there are so many sources of information on the internet and in public media, but where is true wisdom? It is, as always, a gift from the Spirit, given in the spirit of Love.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 5:38-48)

Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun shine on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Moses told the people, “love your neighbors.” Jesus goes way beyond that to embrace enemies. He says that even tax collectors, who were universally hated, loved their neighbors. But imagine trying to love the Roman rulers who were killing Jesus’ followers and would continue to murder Christians for almost 300 years.

Unfortunately, the word “hate” has entered into our political and social discourse with increasing frequency. We hear it every day from all sorts of people and groups. Even when there is serious reason for disagreements, there is no excuse for hatred. It only breeds more hatred and division, not love. It is not the way of Jesus.            


Photograph by Dan Edge on Unsplash

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Spirit of love, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Awaken to the Spirit, true wisdom

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Sirach

(Chapter 27:4-7)

This is one of the “wisdom books” in the Hebrew scriptures. Here we have observations that were true thousands of years ago and are true today.

“In tribulation is the test of the just.” Yes! The hard times often test us and reveal who we really are.

“The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had…. So too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind…. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are trusted.”

It is true. Our words say a great deal about who we really are, even though we also believe that “Actions speak louder than words.”

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 92)

“Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” How often do you give thanks to the Lord? Sometimes? Often? Every day? How about right now?

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 19, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah

(Chapter 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23)

Samuel, who lived more than a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, was an important person in the history of Israel. He has been called the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He had secretly anointed Saul as king of Israel, but Saul turned out to be wrong for the role. When the incident we read about today occurred, Israel was at war with the Philistines, but Saul was obsessed with hunting down his son-in-law David, whom he feared as a rival for the throne. While Saul was asleep, David snuck into his camp and could have killed him. Instead, he took Saul’s spear back to his own camp and showed it to his men. He told them that he did not kill Saul who was trying to kill him: “Today, though the Lord delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.” Later, of course, David became the greatest of all the kings of Israel with the blessings of God.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 103)

“The Lord is kind and merciful.” This was an important concept for the Jewish people, because the gods worshiped by their contemporaries were anything but “kind and merciful.” It’s an important concept for us, too, because many of our contemporaries worship false godspower, prestige, moneythat also are neither kind nor merciful.

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Topics: love one another as I love you, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, The golden rule

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