Pastor’s Corner for the 7th Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year A, by Rev. Fr. Rampe Hlobo SJ
Today’s readings – especially the first reading from Leviticus and the gospel – challenge us as Christians and undoubtedly remind us of our identity and our universal vocation. We are called as followers of Christ to be not only like him but to emulate the generosity, graciousness and the perfect love that God has shown to us.
In the first reading – taken from the series of regulations in the Law referred to as the “Holiness Code” – the message that Moses is sent to deliver to the children of Israel is as clear as day light. He is to tell them to “Be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy.” The holiness of God alluded to is not of piety but of actions that help those that we interact with daily, to experience the love and graciousness of God, through our engagements with them.
We are to love one another and bear no grudges against each other. We are not to go on gossiping and saying bad things about others behind their back. If anything, we are to practice charitable fraternal correction so as to avoid the sin of gossip. We are instructed and encouraged to openly and lovingly tell each other of our offences, without seeking vengeance but applying the rule of love and forgiveness. The aim here is for us to call to mind that in practicing fraternal correction, we not only avoid the pervasive sins of gossip, vengeance or bearing a grudge, but spread the values of love and compassion for each other.
Paul writing to the community of Corinth, he underscores the importance of humility and circumvention of falling into the trap of thinking that our wisdom is anywhere near sagacity or prudence because in the eyes of God it is not only idiocy but useless as well. What we perceive as wisdom is in fact, according to Paul what arguably leads to unhealthy cliques that he is reprimanding in this section of his letter to the community of Corinth. We all belong to Christ who belongs to God. We are all children of God.
As we prepare for the holy season of Lent, maybe we can start with striving through our Lenten observes, to be followers of Christ that endeavour to emulate God’s perfection that we are called to in today’s gospel. Through our challenges and daily activities – that often make us less loving and unforgiving – we can consciously try to practice the values of the gospel that encourage us to give up gossiping, to forgive each other’s transgressions without seeking vengeance and to endeavouravoiding the practice of settling scores with those who have offended or done us wrong. During this coming season of lent that starts on Wednesday, we could look at those things in our lives that impede us from being like Christ to each other or suffocate our capacity to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. After all, we were created in His image. Let us allow that image of God in each one of us, grow and help us to be perfect like Him.