23rd Sunday OT- "Love does no evil to the neighbor"
Personally reflecting on the readings:
I'm going to cut straight to two points.
First, What the Psalm connects with from Ezekiel and Romans are forgiveness and tender-heartedness. These virtues are part of building a conscience that embraces St. Paul's affirmation:
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, Love is the fulfillment of the law."
From what I observed recently, and to use a phrase from the modern lexicon, I am quite salty over, is the attitude I see from many that say, "Fu*k your feelings." I've seen it in my social media feed. I've seen it on flags in the street endorsing one Presidential candidate over another. It's becoming the outcry of a Vocal Minority that claims to be the silent majority. This group has fallen victim to hard-heartedness.
"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts" is what the psalm proclaims, yet many of the folks espousing this vulgar attitude have hardened their hearts in ways they are not yet aware.
When we disregard someone else's feelings, we are disrespecting their inherent dignity. When someone discounts emotions, they cause anger. Anger is a sign of offended dignity. As Christians, a person's dignity is never in question; they have value no matter what. When that hardening of heart occurs, they become separated from their brothers and sisters in faith. They can no longer love unconditionally, and that prevents us from spiritual communion. That's a problem that leads to my second point.
"Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them."
How can we genuinely gather in Jesus' name in this era of social distancing and incredible divisiveness? The understanding we have as Christians is that we need to gather with Jesus to live like Jesus. When we adopt divisive mottos, we sever that authentic Christian connection. We show up as imposters, and that again offends our undeniable dignity. We cause this damage to our selves in those situations. That should make us angry and push us to self-examination. I fear we are approaching a lack of widespread self-examination, and this rift will only prove to make room for the devil's work. Thus begins a vicious cycle that proves to damage our neighbors.
So what are we binding on earth that will be bound in heaven? Remember what we say on earth is eternal in heaven (Mt. 18:18). Do we honestly wish to create a "F*ck your feelings" attitude toward our neighbors? A decent person would say no. A different person might say I am being too sensitive. To that, I ask, is Christ not sensitive? Isn't Christ full of endless compassion and constant validation of the lowliest of esteem? Am I not to emulate Christ in my way of living?
We are to bind on earth as Christians, "Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, Love is the fulfillment of the law." Those who support such vulgar insult, its time to start over from scratch and reform your way in Love. I am telling you your offense, these readers as my witness, and the entire Church as a testimony to this fundamental ideal.