Two-Minute Homily by Fr Francis Belcina OSA for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023.
“Loving and forgiving one’s enemy doesn’t mean that we agree to what they’re doing. But we need find a place within us to show compassion instead.”
- Two-Minute Homily Transcript
Two-Minute Homily TranscriptAuthor: Archdiocese of Brisbane
One time during my holidays in our hometown, I read to my 9-year old nephew JD, from a children’s bible a passage that happened to be this Sunday’s gospel. And he had recently been in a disagreement and I heard, a fist fight with his classmate. He was listening intently to the reading, and he then had this sudden curious look on his face, and asked me, “Uncle, do I really have to love my enemy?” They’re back to being friends again, he said. Oh, to have a child’s heart that’s quick to forgive!
Now if this command of Jesus to love our enemies is already counter-intuitive to a young child, how much more to grown-ups like ourselves. In our encounter with people in the workplace, at home, in shopping centres and in the sports field, and even in the church, in our brothers and sisters. We sometimes can find ourselves being dismissive of other people who think and act differently than us. At times, we offend people; other times, we are at the receiving end of the offence. And there are even cases when we really feel the brunt of other’s aggressive behaviour and nasty words.
Experiences like these can quickly paralyse us into a state of anger, and before we know it, we find ourselves inhaling our own fumes of hatred and unforgiveness. And we think that with our hate for the other that we’re mending the hurt, but the hard reality is, we’re only poisoning ourselves. In these circumstances, find ourselves trapped in our own prison of hatred and unforgiveness.
The good news and the invitation of Jesus is for us to live in freedom. And the pattern that Jesus offers us, is not not doing anything, but intentionally doing something by loving the other who offended us. Yes, a very counter-intuitive move. But by loving and forgiving one’s enemy doesn’t mean that we agree to what they’re doing. But we need find a place within us to show compassion instead. This is not being passive, and it is not what others call, killing the other with kindness, there’s no killing here. It is shifting our gaze back to our God who has continually forgiven us.
Author John Bevere said, “A person who cannot forgive has forgotten how great a debt God has forgiven them.” Loving our enemies is finding that moment, it is remembering how we’ve been forgiven by our God who is kind and merciful. And if God has loved and forgiven us even when we’re unworthy of being loved. How much more do we need to show others the same kind of love, those who have offended us. You might ask, how do I even begin?
The late Augustinian, Fr Pat Fahey, offered me this advice during my Novitiate. Start by praying for the good of that person. Start by praying for your enemy. I gave that same advise to my 9-year old nephew. God bless you!