Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1:1 Kgs 18:41-46; Gospel: Mt 5:20-26
We live in a world of crass individualism; self-glory, self-realization and individualism, are the catchwords of today’s world. Everything is aimed at one’s own comfort and greatness. The ad ‘neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride,’ shows the pulse of the time. Various philosophies have emerged that reflect the mindset of the time. ‘Hell is my neigbour’ says Sartre. It is in this context that today’s Gospel draws out the fact that Christianity is essentially a communitarian religion. Even worship is seen from the perspective of relationships. Only after reconciliation does God would accept our sacrifices. Often there is a clash of different ideologies and philosophies in our society. While admitting the fact of objective truths, there is a rising awareness in the society that from different vantage points each one could have a truth of his/her own. Very many times a lack of sensitivity to the other’s view point can create problems between individuals. What we ought to develop in such delicate circumstances is an attitude of ‘I am right but the other is not wrong’ except in cases that go against Christian virtues and values. Christianity is a social religion and one of the trademarks of a Christian is that he/she is a social being.
Another theme that shines out in today’s Gospel is the condition to be a Christian. Christian morality is beautiful to preach but very difficult to practice. St. Antony of Padua, in one of his sermons, quoting Pope Gregory says that preaching should use words only rarely. It must be shown through our deeds. But it is a herculean task. Gandhiji once said: “I love your Christ, but so many of you (Christians) are unlike your Christ.” The higher morality preached by Jesus is very touchy and noble. But it is difficult. Often what we do is to lower Christian morality. Swami Vivekananda while admiring Christ spoke about the Christians: ‘You Christians cannot fulfill the precepts of Christian morality as preached by Jesus. So you lower it to your level.’ It is a challenge to us Christians to live up to the ideal that Jesus has given us.