The Bishops Homily – 7th Sunday Ordinary Time

7th Sunday Ordinary Time
Lev. 19:2, 17-18
I Cor. 3:16-23
Mt. 5:38-48

INTRODUCTION: What magnificent readings we have this Sunday: all three (3) of them! Each of them speaks about HOLINESS as the central theme!

(1) LEVITICUS, a book around 1250 BC with lots of legal, liturgical, and somewhat “fussy” prescriptions from priests and Levites, says “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” HOLINESS is all of spiritual life in the Bible; everything else is commentary! Prayer, moral life, liturgy, etc. is meant to put holiness in our hearts. In the Old Testament, holy is Kadosh, meaning “set apart.” God in his nature is other than the created world but also other than the wickedness that is in the world. Holiness thus is the Divine Life in us and is essentially a matter of LOVE. In our love, we are set apart; in our love, we are like God. Leviticus specifies LOVE thus: “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart (Huwag kang magtanim ng galit sa iyong puso.)… Take no revenge or cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself.” (Huwag kang maghiganti o magtanim ng sama ng loob sa inyong kababayan, kundi mahalin ninyo ang inyong kapwa tulad ng iyong sarili.) As St. John of the Cross said, “In the evening of our life, we are going to be judged by love.”

(2) JESUS’ SERMON ON THE MOUNT in Mt. 5 (around 30-33 AD) defines what LOVE is. It is willing the good of the other as other for his own sake whether a friend or an enemy. God does not love only the saints who give love in return but those sinners alike who give nothing in return. To have this Divine Life in us is to LOVE WITH
A DIVINE INDIFFERENCE “making the sun rise on the bad and on the good”
                                          (“pinasisikat niya ang araw sa kapwa masama at mabuti”)
and “causing rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”
                                        (“pinapapatak niya ang ulan sa kapwa makatarungan at di-
                                               makatarungan.”)

What a revolution this is! Think how different life would be were we to love this way all the time, rather than measuring out or calculating our LOVE based on selfish interests or on merit. “For if you love/greet those who love/greet you,
What recompense will you have? What is unusual about that?
Do not tax collectors/sinners/pagans do the same?
So be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
             “Kung mahal (binabati) ninyo ang nagmamahal (bumabati) sa inyo,
              Bakit kayo gagantimpalaan? (Ano ang naiiba rito?)
              Di ba’t ginagawa rin ito ng mga kolektor ng buwis (ng mga pagano)?
              Kaya maging ganap kayo gaya ng pagiging ganap ng inyong Amang nasa langit.”

(3) ST. PAUL in I Cor. 3 (around 69/70 AD) uses a metaphor of great significance: “Don’t you know that you are the Temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Paul, when he was young Saul from Tarsus, studied in Jerusalem and moved about familiarly in the Temple. He reminds his little Christians in Corinth that they are the Temple where God is rightly praised. Everything in us–our mind, our passion, our friendship, our loves, etc.–is to be turned to love, must be willing the good of the other in the way of Divine Indifference described above by Jesus. This makes us truly holy, truly set apart, truly a Temple/Sanctuary!

CONCLUSION: Dedicate your whole life to LOVE and you will be HOLY, SET APART like God, and a Temple/Sanctuary!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

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