2 Corinthians 6:1-10

As God’s fellow workers we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

We do nothing that people might object to, so as not to bring discredit on our function as God’s servants. Instead, we prove we are the servants of God by great fortitude in times of suffering: in times of hardship and distress; when we are flogged, or sent to prison, or mobbed; labouring, sleepless, starving. We prove we are God’s servants by our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness; by a spirit of holiness, by a love free from affectation; by the word of truth and b the power of God; by being armed with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left, prepared for honour or disgrace, for blame or praise; taken for impostors while we are genuine; obscure yet famous; said to be dying and here are we alive; rumoured to be executed before we are sentenced; thought most miserable and yet we are always rejoicing; taken for paupers though we make others rich, for people having nothing though we have everything.

Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.”

There are some people who say that religious people are escapists. They say that people look to religion as a form of escaping from reality, because religions make people live in a fantasy world where God answers all prayers, and makes life all rosy and sweet for them. These people have never known Christ or his words. Anyone who reads today’s readings cannot claim that Christianity offers people an easy way out of life. Rather, Christ asks us to go an extra mile for others. That is no easy way out.

Even for us Christians reading today’s readings and remembering what Christ is calling us to, we might be tempted to think: This teaching is too hard; I cannot do it. That is true, in a sense, that we cannot do it alone. Most of the time, when we think of the difficulties and persecutions that we are called to go through as Christians, we are tempted to escape from it. To quit being a Christian, now that is escapism.

But Christians are not masochists either. We know we can do it, but not alone. St. Paul reminds us right at the beginning of today’s first reading: Do not neglect the grace of God that you have received now. Now is the favourable time. God always grants us enough grace to do what he calls us to do NOW. I write NOW because very often, we think of all the trouble that is coming our way in the future, and we give up. But the grace of God that we have received is to be used now, not tomorrow, not the day after, but now.

Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Giving us his grace to do his will now.

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