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Saturday, February 23, 2013

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St. Polycarp

Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Matthew 5:43-48

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the proof of being a christian

"My command to you is: love your enemies." —Matthew 5:44

Naturally, we fight fire with fire. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (Mt 5:38; Ex 21:24). If you hit me, I'll hit you. If you sue me, I'll sue you. We feel like giving people a dose of their own medicine. We say: "Two can play this game." We treat others not as we want them to treat us (see Mt 7:12), but as they have treated us (see Jer 50:15, 29). We respond in kind, and do unto others as they have done unto us. We automatically respond to our enemies by becoming like them, thus continuing the destructive cycle of injustice and violence.

However, Jesus gives us the power to rise above our human nature. "When He was insulted, He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats" (1 Pt 2:23). In Christ, we can do to those who have hurt us the opposite of what they have done to us. We can love those who hate us and pray for those who curse us (see Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27-28). Because Jesus has offered us a new nature by His death on the cross, we can feed, clothe, and love our enemies (Rm 12:20) and refuse to "repay injury with injury" (Rm 12:17). When we try to conquer evil with evil, we are conquered by evil (see Rm 12:21). Only by responding to evil with good will we conquer evil (Rm 12:21).

Follow the way of Jesus. Die for your enemies rather than try to make them die for you. Then, by your death and life, you will share with Jesus in putting sin and death to death.

Prayer:  Father, as I fast this Lent, give me Your heart and mind toward those who have hurt me.

Promise:  "Today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly His own, as He promised you." —Dt 26:18

Praise:  St. Polycarp was faithful to his Savior even while being burned to death.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 13, 2012

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