23 February, Sunday – Pride, our stumbling block

23 February

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Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’

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1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.

As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

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Matthew 5:38-48

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.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

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“… he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise…”

I have been recently troubled by some issues at work, and in the course of these ‘troubles’, I got into a spat with one of my colleagues. Suffice to say that the interactions have gotten rather heated of late, and we ended up having a face-to-face confrontation.

I was feeling frustrated as I believed I was doing my best to help others, and felt the other person was being self-centred and protective over her ‘territory’.

In preparing for today’s reflection, I felt God addressing me directly.

Firstly, the Gospel today spoke about “turning the other cheek”. I felt these verses speaking to me and I sat with this for a few days. I was puzzled. There were other situations in the Bible when Jesus got angry (such as the time Jesus chased the merchants out of the Temple as detailed in Matthew 21:12-17), where He certainly didn’t turn His cheek.

Then it struck me. That to me, it was not about the act of turning one’s cheek at all. Instead, it was a question of one’s pride preventing one from doing so.

In the work scenario I mentioned above, I realised that it was never about my colleague being selfish. What triggered me was the perception that she was arrogant and that she did not give me due respect.

The second reading of today talks about wisdom, and how worldly wisdom is seen as foolishness by God. In my effort to help others, I did not realise that I was, in fact, acting on my own accord. I failed to consider the feelings of others, or even to seek out their opinions! Instead of being wise, I was demonstrating my foolishness!

I am constantly amazed by how our God speaks to me. In today’s readings, God guides and rebukes me at the same time. I feel His love and am confident that no matter how challenging the journey, and how many mistakes I make, He will watch out for me.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may be able to slow down to listen to Your promptings. Help us to always be open to You.

Thanksgiving: We thank You, Father God, for always sending Your Spirit to be there with us. Thank you for blessing us always with Your love, constant guidance and protection.

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