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June 18: Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Reading I Kings 21:1-16
Gospel Matthew 5:38-42

“Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back....”

As we continue to hear Our Lord preach the Sermon on the Mount, it is striking how practical and down to earth His words are. He does not speak fluff: the sort of words that we hear from so many teachers of the spiritual life. He gives very practical advice about how to treat others. In doing so, Our Lord is drawing us into a deeper relationship with the Father.

Our Lord slowly tries to teach us how intimately related are the commands to love God and neighbor. It is in Christ Jesus that the divine Word of God is made flesh. It is in Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross—the sacrifice of the altar—that we share sacramentally in Christ’s life, in order that we might share morally in His life by loving both God and neighbor fully.

However, we must be honest with ourselves, and be mindful that we are hardly advancing in the spiritual life if repentance is the largest part of our prayer. Our penance merely disposes us to be God’s servants rather than His rivals. When we consider the words of Christ in today’s Gospel passage, we see how completely we are to give of ourselves to others.

If our own spiritual houses are in order, how devoted are we to helping others build theirs? How willing are we to be patient with others, with those who cannot be patient in their own prayer? How will others learn the need for patience if not by seeing our example? How willing are we to accept insults in silence and pray for the one who insults? How will others learn the need for forbearance if not by seeing our example? As we share in the sacrifice of the altar, may Almighty God help us see in our daily lives who it is in most need of a Christian witness. Then, may Almighty God strengthen us through the Body and Blood of Christ to be the one to offer that witness.