• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 22 February 2019 16:59

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 2019

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150About 25 years ago while on retreat I read a book by the Scripture scholar, Dominic Crossan, entitled The Historical Jesus: the life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1991).  Around that time there were several scholars trying to determine what could be factually said about the “historical Jesus”. Crossan used the principle of contemporary journalists at the time: three sources were needed before one could say it was a historical fact.  In the course of the study it became clear that there were very few statements in the Gospels that were definitely “historical facts”.  He distinguished between historical facts, probably historical facts, and possibly historical facts. What has stayed with me over the years were the points he made in his final chapter.  He said that 90-95 per cent of the teachings of Jesus were also taught by other rabbis.  However, the three things that were unique to Jesus’ teachings are the three things that the Church has difficulty living out: open table fellowship – everyone is welcome at God’s table; let the greatest among you be the servant of all – those who have the most must be the servants of others; and love your enemies – one  must not respond to hatred and violence with hatred and violence but with forgiveness and love.About 25 years ago while on retreat I read a book by the Scripture scholar, Dominic Crossan, entitled The Historical Jesus: the life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1991).  Around that time there were several scholars trying to determine what could be factually said about the “historical Jesus”. Crossan used the principle of contemporary journalists at the time: three sources were needed before one could say it was a historical fact.  In the course of the study it became clear that there were very few statements in the Gospels that were definitely “historical facts”.  He distinguished between historical facts, probably historical facts, and possibly historical facts. What has stayed with me over the years were the points he made in his final chapter.  He said that 90-95 per cent of the teachings of Jesus were also taught by other rabbis.  However, the three things that were unique to Jesus’ teachings are the three things that the Church has difficulty living out: open table fellowship – everyone is welcome at God’s table; let the greatest among you be the servant of all – those who have the most must be the servants of others; and love your enemies – one  must not respond to hatred and violence with hatred and violence but with forgiveness and love.


In today’s gospel we are reminded that we are to love our enemies. This is perhaps one of the most challenging teachings of Christ. One Sunday afternoon at a Jewish/Christian Seminar I attended, the topic of the relations between the Israelis and Palestinians came up.  One Sister suggested that perhaps the Israelis should show more compassion towards the Palestinians.  A Rabbi quickly responded: there is nothing in the Jewish law or ethos that says we must love our enemies.
Down through history the Church has never stopped teaching this principle, but She has had a hard time persuading the followers of Jesus to live by this rule. In the Middle Ages She forbade the constant warfare that was going on between the Dukes and Princes during certain liturgical seasons or on certain feasts. When the catapult was introduced She forbade the use of it because it would mean the killing of people you could not see and therefore there would be indiscriminate violence.
But the Church always found ways also to “compromise” on this principle.  The right of self-defence would be expanded. Killing for a sacred reason (as during the Crusades) could itself be interpreted as a sacred act. Justice demanded “pay-back”. A whole theory of a “just war” was worked out and guided moral theologians in their judgments for centuries. And the principle that Jesus uniquely taught -- love your enemies – was lost sight of.


When I was giving Retreats in Papua New Guinea an SVD Brother taught me that this principle was not lost to everyone and what was its real meaning. One night when he was locking up the Mission Store he was attacked by four “rascals” (a term used in PNG to describe people who do violence to others). He recognised one of them because that particular lad had been an altar server. They beat him up terribly and left him for dead while they went into the store to steal what they could.  On their way out the leader wanted to go back and make sure the Brother was dead. But the former altar server spoke up and said: let us go, I am sure he is dead.


When I spoke with the Brother, he had already lost sight in one eye and hearing in one ear as a result of the beating.  I asked him if after the beating he thought of just going back to Holland. “Oh no, Larry,” he said. “These are good people. They are just going through a difficult time.”


He taught me that certainly at least one element of loving your enemies was never stopping doing good for others, even if they have hurt you.