Feb. 20—Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Samuel 26: 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; Psalm 103, R The Lord is kind and merciful.; 1 Corinthians15:45-49; Gospel—Luke 8:27-38
One of the “advocacies” I had when I was a school administrator was to convince people that our rules and regulations must not be formulated based on violations, which is very often the case.
We put in a dress code because people do not come to school wearing the proper attire. The haircut rule is there to prevent long hair inappropriate for a learning institution.
Contrast this to the process when we put in the use of the uniform, going countercultural, so to speak, as it ended a long-standing tradition and practice of no uniform.
It was a process of conversation where we highlighted our reasons for proposing the uniform.
One, there were security concerns on campus, since everyone wearing casual clothes made it more difficult for us to monitor outsiders. This was at a time when there was an increase in theft inside the classrooms.
Two, allowing casual wear emphasized the disparity among those who were well-off—wearing designer jeans, branded shirts, etc.—and those who were not as privileged.
Three, we believed that putting on a uniform every day as they prepared to go to school was a ritual that can give them a sense of purpose, pretty much like priests when we vest for a Mass.
For all three reasons, we emphasized the values behind each. Doing this gave us greater clarity in what we wanted to achieve. It is also because it is much more conducive to dialogue and conversation.
This is the spirit of today’s Gospel, where we have the famous golden rule.
The extra mile
Three considerations for us to reflect on: First is the challenge to love our enemies. Second, there is the positive approach to Christian ethics, not so much what not to do, but more of what we can and want to do. Third is the invitation to be more, go the extra mile, framed within the idea of being Godlike.
Love our enemies, not an easy task. But remember the verb used—agapao, or the noun, agape, the highest form of Christian love. This is the benevolent love that wishes others the greatest good for themselves, a love for humanity.
This is the source of Christian charity and the source of authentic Christian service. The popular mantra, in all things to love and to serve, comes from this agape, one of the greatest virtues we can aspire for.
This is the greatest positive motivation or inspiration we can have. Love is the force, the spirit, the grace behind all things. Truly, it is the greatest of all virtues and commandments.
This brings us to our final point of being more, going the extra mile, being generous. All these are qualities insufficient to describe God’s love for us.
This is the love that we are invited to aspire for. It is the love that is our way to being Godlike.
We think of the men and women who have lived out this love—Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela. The universality of their witness makes them alter Christus, another Christ in the world.
In our world in need of hope and inspiration, healing and wholeness, this is the love our world needs most. —CONTRIBUTED