February 19, 2023, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 Matthew 5:38-48
As is often the case, today’s readings remind us that divine wisdom is frequently different than what passes for wisdom in the secular world. Not only does St. Paul make that point directly in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, but it is implied in both the first reading (Leviticus) and the gospel passage (Matthew).
Another characteristic that stands out in these readings is the mercy that God shows to all of humankind. And God wants us to show that same mercy to all people (and to ourselves). This is demonstrated emphatically by the fact that we see this proclamation in both the first reading and the Gospel. Read on and your will note that the Responsorial Psalm features the refrain: “The Lord is kind and merciful”. Repetition of a theme such as this is a clear sign that we should take it seriously and reflect upon how we can change our lives in order to bring them more in line with what God is asking us to become.
Another theme, found in the second reading, describes the Corinthian Christians as “Temples of the Holy Spirit”. For me, this is a very powerful image. St. Paul seems to imply that this group of believers together form a community that is a “Temple”. It is a lovely image. What makes that image even more powerful for me is the use of the same term “Temples of the Holy Spirit” to refer to each believer individually. I will never forget studying this image when I was preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation 60 years ago. Even today, when I think of myself - body, soul and mind - as a “Temple of the Holy Spirit” - it helps me put into perspective how I treat myself. Do I care for my body, my soul and my mind? Am I careful about what I eat and how I exercise. Am I particular about what I read and watch? Do I take time to nourish my soul with prayer, good friendships and good works? Being the steward of a “temple” has some serious responsibilities. Moreover, remembering that others with whom I come in contact are also “Temples of the Holy Spirit” should prompt me to treat others as the children of God that they are.
How should my behavior change so that I honor all people, including myself, as God’s Temples? That’s excellent food for thought and for prayer!
by: Bill Miller