Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Call to worship

Today’s scriptures call us to be holy as God is holy, not by seeking revenge through the law, but by turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, giving more than is wanted, praying for our persecutor. In these ways, we grow in holiness and perfection.

  • To the point: In this gospel, Jesus challenges us to go beyond our expected responses to human interactions. But, challenging as they are, his examples of this “beyond” are nonetheless still finite human actions and limited love. Jesus’ examples are shocking — but not nearly so shocking as what he really expects of us: “be perfect as our heavenly Father,” who gives Life, sun rise and rain to the just and the unjust” alike. Infinite actions. Limitless love. What a challenge!
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 5: 38-48) to the first reading: The first reading is a selection from the holiness code of the book of Leviticus. When this book teaches we are to “Be holy” as God is holy, it is saying the same thing as Jesus who challenges us in the gospel to “be perfect” as our “heavenly Father.” God’s holiness is God’s perfection.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We encounter God’s holiness or perfection in the traces of God’s glory all around us —for example, the glory of a sunrise or the refreshment of a rainfall, or the radiant smile of an innocent child or the limitless love of a selfless caregiver.

Centering prayers

The Gospel

(Matthew 5: 38-48)

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well

Who can turn the other cheek,
give away their coat,
go two miles instead of one,
love enemies and pray for all those
who persecutes them?
Not without you, Lord.
As you did from your cross, let us wage love, not war.
Help us go way beyond being nonviolent.
Give us generosity of spirit.
We want to love as you do.

The First Reading

(Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18) 

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Lord, you told us we should be holy
and love our neighbors as ourselves.
No half-measures in our loving.
No play-acting. All our neighbors as ourselves.
Give us your grace. It’s the only thing we will need.

The Second Reading

(1 Corinthians 3: 16-23) 

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Holy Spirit, come dwell in us.
Make us temples of God.
Take all our prayers and weave them into your own.
Inform our every choice, every struggle.
We wait for your Holy Breath.
Open us to you. we ask this.

Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck

Music for reflection