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Lent Retreat - Week 1, Saturday

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Readings: Dt 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-2,4-5,7-8; Mt 5:43-48

The recent car bomb in Newry in Northern Ireland marks a troubling development in the long history of the region. Troubling, of course, because it brings back memories of the violence and conflict that marked the region for many years, days that most had hoped belonged to the past. And yet, despite this, the local tradesmen were adamant that business would return to normal as soon as possible, and that acts of violence and hate would not be allowed to dominate.

When hatred takes a hold, between individuals, or between groups in a community, something always has to give in order that a new, improved relationship may be forged. Today's Gospel reminds us that the most powerful force to break hatred is love. Love disarms hatred because it compels us to look at those we hate in a different way. Jesus reminds us that we need to look at the world with a God's eye view. This means recognising that the distinctions that we make between those who are for us and against us are ours, and not God's. We are reminded that all are equal in dignity and loved by God, and that the challenge for us is to see others with that same dignity, and to want the good for them as much as we want it for ourselves.

Of course, this is not easy. It doesn't mean that we have to pretend that conflicts and tensions do not exist between us and others. Loving properly requires us to start from a realistic point, to recognise that these divisions and conflicts do exists in our lives. It is then that we can make the choice, to decide that the status quo is not the way we want things to be. And then we need to put in the prayer and the work required to bring about the changes. Changing our attitudes and behaviour towards those who challenge us the most will often present the greatest challenge to true conversion. But what is on offer to us is the blessed life that comes from being true children of God

Robert Gay OP


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