THURSDAY OF THE TWENTY-THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

1 Corinthians 8:1B-7, 11-13


Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.


Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14, 23-24

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Luke 6:27-38


“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”


(NRSVCE)

Meditation

Today’s scriptures are particularly relevant to today and all that is going on in the world, most notably in how both St. Paul in the first reading and Jesus in the Gospel make apparent to us that it, in a disagreement, it is not enough to simply be right. Having the most correct opinion is the mark of one who is open to truth, but it is not specifically the mark of a Christian. As Christians, of course we are open to truth, and we seek it, and we find it in God. But what we do with that truth once we know it says everything about whether or not we truly belong to God.

Let’s talk about what it means to be a loving Christian and what it does not mean. First: it is not the sign of a Christian to never upset anyone. It is not the sign of a Christian to back away from the truth or correcting someone in fraternal charity. Speaking the truth and words of correction are not sins against charity. In fact, more sin is committed by refraining from speaking the truth than by upsetting a person who does not want to hear it. Truly, we venerate many saints who were martyred for not staying silent in the face of sin. We are all called to similar action.

So then, what is a sin against charity? These are the sins Jesus outlines for us in today’s Gospel. When you are insulted, offer no insult back. When you are attacked, do not strike back. When others may speak ill of you or tell lies about you, don’t turn around and bad mouth them in return. These outbursts on the part of your perceived opponents is the result of their feeling powerless in face of the truth. But as Christians, we are never powerless. We have the Lord at our back, and if we want to keep him there, we had better behave, even in the face of our enemies, as he has told us to behave.

And always remember, we do not correct our brothers and sisters because we want to hold it over their heads. We do not correct our brothers and sisters because we must have the last word. We do not correct our brothers and sisters because we have it all figured out and they’re all screwed up. No. Sometimes it becomes necessary to offer a word of truth or correction to our brothers and sisters because we love them and we grieve to think of them going down a wrong path and suffering from separation from God. Think of Saint Paul’s opening remarks in the first reading: “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” We reach out in love because we want to build up our brothers and sisters, no matter who they are, where they are, what they believe, or how they have behaved toward us. When we focus simply on being right, we will get puffed up and ultimately fall into error. But when we focus on love, we focus on God, and he builds us up and keeps us from falling.

In our prayer today, let us ask God for the grace to better love our brothers and sisters, and even our enemies. May he always keep us grounded in the truth, with our eyes fixed on him, and our hearts turned in charity to all those around us.

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