7th Sunday After Epiphany, February 19, 2017
Seventh Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)
Scripture Readings*: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48, Psalm 119:33-40
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
The regulations given in chapter 19 have direct relationship to the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). These precepts are the basis for all Jewish and moral law. These statutes are not mans’, they are God’s law. We belong to God, and because God is holy, we must be a holy people (vv. 1-2).
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
The source of power for the Christian life is realized because the Holy Spirit dwells within the follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit enables us to serve God and live the holy and good life that we are called to. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are God’s “holy temple,” and as a result we can be holy. Paul warns those who follow Christ not to bring ruin on God’s temple.
The Law was not given to exact revenge, but rather to legislate justice. Jesus clarifies that – though the Law supported retaliation – mercy was always the acceptable intention underlying these laws. For followers of Christ, insisting upon a “pound of flesh” falls short. Mercy goes beyond the accepted requirement of going one mile. We’re to go two. It’s easy to love those who love you. But to love your enemies is to imitate the love of God.
And the Greatest of These Is Love
The common denominator of today’s readings is love. Leviticus instructs the people to leave portions of their harvest available for the poor, an act of loving and dignified compassion. Paul urges believers to build carefully on the foundation of Christ and to care for each other and themselves as temples in which God’s spirit dwells. And Jesus Himself urges His followers to go the extra mile, praying for their enemies.
Through love, God is revealed – to others and to ourselves. Practicing compassion, treating others and ourselves with respect, and praying for our enemy changes us. It forces us to confront our own need for salvation and restoration.
Only when our hearts have been changed can we then reflect that love to others. Only when we have learned to love ourselves as Christ loves us can we truly love our neighbor in ways that reveal God’s love.
Prayer for Seventh Sunday After Epiphany – “Loving God, send Your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart Your greatest gift, that everything I do is rooted in Your love. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A