The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
                                                                                         February 19, 2023

                                                                                                                            Fr. Josť Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
                                                                                                                                                                                       North St. Paul, Minnesota

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Sunday Reading Meditations

Today's readings invite us to holiness. In the first reading, the Lord says to Moses: "Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy"  In the Gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples: "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

We are invited t imitate God.  How can we imitate God when we are so imperfect?

The Swiss author and mystic Adrienne von Speyr wrote: "holiness consists not in the fact that a human being gives everything, but in the fact that the Lord takes everything."

To be holy means to participate in God's holiness.  A Saint is not the one who never fails but the one in whom Christ lives.  St. Paul proclaims: "I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me".

As St. Ambrose wrote, "When we speak about virtue, we speak about Christ,"  Holiness also has to do with desire.  To desire holiness purifies us.  St. Augustine wrote: "The entire lie of a good Christian is in face an exercise of holy desire."

In today's second reading, St. Paul tells us that holiness means to belong to Christ and be inhabited by the Holy Spirit.  "All things belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God."  "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

We need to make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  If we hold grudges or bear anger and hatred in our hearts, if we do not forgive, Satan prevents us from receiving the Holy Spirit, belonging to Christ and walking a path of holiness.  As St. Paul says, "Do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil."

Today's responsorial says: "Merciful and gracious is the Lord".  To be holy, we need to imitate God's mercy and forgive.  To forgive is not a feeling.  Jesus says to love our enemies - not to like them.  Forgiveness is not accepting the wrongs against us as good.  To forgive is not an act of self-reliance.  We forgive in the name of Jesus  and by the power of divine mercy.  To forgive is to let God be the Judge.  When we forgive, we regain our dignity as beloved sons and daughters of God.  As Jesus says, "I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heaven Father".  When we forgive, a new life can begin for us.  When we forgive, we open our hearts to holiness.

At this time, I should like to invit4e you to make an act of forgiveness.  Please repeat after me.  In the name of Jesus and by the power of the divine mercy, I willingly forgive N, as I forgive myself, and I ask you, Father, to bless N. and to bless me.  In the name of Jesus, I command the spirit of unforgiveness, resentment and anger to leave me and go to the foot of the cross for Jesus to deal with as He wills.

May the Holy Spirit fill you with joy and peace, as truly beloved children of God.