God’s giving is hard to comprehend some days. He makes the sun to rise on both evil and good people. The mercy of our God is unparallel and yet this is the marker for which to strive. Turn the other cheek. Give your cloak. Go yet another mile. Love your enemies. Pray for your persecutor. How is this even possible when blood boils and anger rages? Most of us know we are incapable of doing these things…except for when the grace of God steps in and then suddenly blessings flow.
In the First Reading today from Leviticus the Lord tells Moses to let the children of Israel know that they should strive for holiness. Bear no grudges; take no vengeance. Rather love your neighbour as yourself. Sometimes when I hear these words images of my travels in Guatemala and DR Congo flash through my mind. I see my Guatemalan friend’s eyes dart around the cafe before answering my question and the fear that someone may overhear his response is tangible. He knows his brother was killed by a neighbour. The pain in the eyes of the Congolese father is evident and slices me to the core, when he demands to know how to forgive the neighbour who murdered his young daughter. Our world can be messed up some days and yet there are bright lights to guide us–parents of the children who were massacred in Connecticut choose Love Wins as their mantra. Pope John Paul II meets forgives his would-be assassin.
We are the temple for the Holy Spirit of God. We have a chance each and every day to spread love, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. Every day the sun rises, we can vow to be light, salt, joy. We can strive for holiness. Even if we miss that mark, we may land in a much better place than if we had not made the attempt. We may at least take the cloak off or walk a half mile. We may find our hearts softening though still unable to forgive. We may find grace to love ourselves and be gentle as we transform into better agents of mercy. We can dust this temple off and invite visitors into a more spacious home where dialogue can happen.
As the sun rises, embrace the challenge that is placed before us. Give. Walk. Love. Pray. Forgive.