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Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

1 Cor. 8:1-7, 11-13 & Lk. 6:27-38

The first century Church at Corinth was struggling to establish itself in a predominantly pagan environment. Animals were sacrificed to pagan gods, and afterwards the meat was consumed at temple banquets or sold in the markets. Sometimes this was the only meal available to the Christians. The question arose as to whether Christians could eat this meat.

Saint Paul was of the opinion that they could because these sacrifices, being made to non-existent gods, were of no religious significance. But there were some Christians who could not appreciate his line of thought: they were scandalised that meat offered to pagan gods was to be served at their own table. By being seen to eat this meat, were they not professing belief in the existence of pagan gods? To remove the confusion from their minds and to avoid all possibility of scandal he declared that he himself would no longer eat this sacrificed meat.

It was Paul's love that motivated him to act in this way. He could have continued with a clear conscience to eat the meat, but he was willing to give it up in order to support his fellow Christians. He reflected the kind of love taught by Jesus in the Gospel, by which we must treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

What sound advice Jesus gives us in the Gospel! We find it hard to love our enemies. To overcome this He has the best remedy: in praying for them all that anger that rises within us, when we think of all the hurt our enemies have inflicted upon us, will gradually melt away.

Today we could give a lot of thought to the idea of treating others as we would like them to treat us. This is because we tend to be self-centred but Jesus is saying, for a change, treat your neighbour in that fashion. Don’t we all want to be rewarded by the Lord in Heaven one day? This will only come about if we love our enemies and do good to them.

Jesus concludes the Gospel by asking us to be compassionate, non-judgemental and generous. Then we will never be able to comprehend God’s generosity: the reward from our heavenly Father will be “a full measure, pressed down and running over”...

Heavenly Father, help us to be like You in being compassionate, merciful and generous, not only to those we love but especially to those who hate us.

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