23rd Week, Thursday, Sept 10

1 Cor 8:1-7, 11-13 / Luke 6:27-38

The Corinthians had asked Paul if it was okay to eat the flesh of animals that had been sacrificed to idols. This was a practical question, because only a portion of the sacrificed animal was offered to the idol. The remaining flesh was sold in meat markets.
It was difficult to determine what meat in a market was from a sacrificed animal and what meat was not. Paul answers that they can eat this meat. On the other hand, if eating the meat causes them to scandalize someone whose conscience, for some reason, won't permit him or her to eat it,  they shouldn't eat it. Paul's point is that we should always beware of leading others into sin, even by actions that aren't sinful in themselves. 
How sensitive are we to the consciences of other people? "Every believer in the world must become a spark of light." John XXIII, Pacem in Terris 
In ancient times in the Greek world much of the meat of the sacrifices was then sold for the food of the people. By eating this meat, did Christians share in idolatry? They do not honor false gods, since these do not exist, says Paul. But as some Christians are scrupulous, it is better not to offend them and therefore to abstain from meat coming from sacrifices to false gods and to abstain from something they could legitimately do. That is love, and love should rule the community. Love does not rest on sympathies alone.
Jesus says: "Love your enemies!" (s that possible? Can we have an affection for one who hates us just as we love our dear and near ones? To make enemies our friends is a contradiction in terms. The very words are the opposite of each other. What did Jesus really say? For this We must go back to the sources. Greek has three words for love: 1. Eran:  is passionate love, that desires the others for itself. Eros and erotic are the noun and adjective from this verb. 2. Philein: is solicitous love. The love friends have for each other. 3. Agapan: to show goodwill. The love that makes no distinction. The love that serves, it is not self-seeking. It is the third word that Jesus used. It has nothing to do with emotion or friendship. This love is ready to suffer, turn the other cheek. It gives and lends, is ready to surrender even the cloak, not only the tunic. It prays and blesses. It takes he enemy into the presence of God. It wants to imitate God, who is love. It wants to end strife and establish peace; to create an atmosphere all around, where it is possible to love the other.

A gospel-love, a love of faith, has no boundaries. One who loves gives more than asked and loves the “unlovable,” including enemies. It does not judge nor condemn, is always ready to be compassionate and forgiving. When we look at all these implications, we have to confess with shame that we are far from this ideal proposed us by our Lord. How far are we in this world the sign of God’s own love?

It is said that a trapped snake can get so angry and confused that it will bite anything, including itself. We may find this puzzling or amazing, but that is a good image of what happens to us when we let anger and resentment control us. We get trapped by our own anger and resentment and we end up biting and hurting ourselves. When we get angry, we think we are getting even with our enemy. The truth is that we are harming ourselves more than we are harming our enemy. (If our enemies were to know this, they would be satisfied just to keep irritating us, because we will do the rest of the damage.) So, when Jesus said: "Love our enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly", we are actually doing good to ourselves. Because by following what Jesus teaches us, we free ourselves from anger and resentment, and we become open to the love and compassion of God. It is a loving compassion that is given in full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, that will turn our so-called enemies into our friends.
Let us pray: God our Father, from whom all good things come and for whom we live, fill us with your own gratuitous love, the one you have shown us in Jesus Christ. Teach us to love and bless even those who curse or maltreat us. Indeed, deepen and widen our limited love, make it without measure, like yours, that we may be called sons and daughters of you, the Most High, our Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. God bless.