Scripture Study, Feb. 19, 2017

February 19, 2017 Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

1 The LORD said to Moses,

2 “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.

17 “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him.

18 Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

NOTES on First Reading:

* [18] You shall love your neighbor as yourself: cited by our Lord as the second of the two most important commandments of God. Cf Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31. Although in the present context the word “neighbor” is restricted to “fellow countrymen,” in Luke 10:29-37 Christ extends its meaning to embrace all men, even enemies. Cf also Matthew 5:43-45.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: “He catches the wise in their own ruses,”

20 and again: “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”

21 So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,

22 Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you,

23 and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

NOTES on Second Reading:

* [17] Holy: i.e., “belonging to God.” The cultic sanctity of the community is a fundamental theological reality to which Paul frequently alludes (cf 1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11; 7:14).

* [21-23] These verses pick up the line of thought of 1 Cor 1:10-13. If the Corinthians were genuinely wise (1 Cor 3:18-20), their perceptions would be reversed, and they would see everything in the world and all those with whom they exist in the church in their true relations with one another. Paul assigns all the persons involved in the theological universe a position on a scale: God, Christ, church members, church leaders. Read from top to bottom, the scale expresses ownership; read from bottom to top, the obligation to serve. This picture should be complemented by similar statements such as those in 1 Cor 8:6 and 1 Cor 15:20-28.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39 But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.

40 If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.

41 Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.

42 Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

NOTES on Gospel Reading:

* [38-42] See Lev 24:20. The Old Testament commandment was meant to moderate vengeance; the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation. Of the five examples that follow, only the first deals directly with retaliation for evil; the others speak of liberality.

* [41] Roman garrisons in Palestine had the right to requisition the property and services of the native population.

* [43-48] See Lev 19:18. There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the “neighbor” of the love commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. Both in the Old Testament (Psalm 139:19-22) and at Qumran (1QS 9:21) hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right. Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy and the persecutor. His disciples, as children of God, must imitate the example of their Father, who grants his gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad.

* [46] Tax collectors: Jews who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs. See the note on Mark 2:14.

* [47] Jesus’ disciples must not be content with merely usual standards of conduct; see Matthew 5:20 where the verb “surpass” (Greek perisseuo) is cognate with the unusual (perisson) of this verse.

* [48] Perfect: in the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew, here and in Matthew 19:21. The Lucan parallel (Luke 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful.

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