Franciscan Gospel Reflection Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time 2023

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 15, 2023

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time. What happens within you when you encounter anger, jealousy, disrespect, and prejudice? What helps you to transform these kinds of situations?

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection Febuary 19 2023. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Photos: May these two stained glass windows from St. Paul, Milwaukee lift our hearts to pray. Father Carmelo Giuffre is pastor of this parish community that encourages us to:  Love God.  Love neighbor. Serve the world.

Matthew 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 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. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Today’s Gospel continues Jesus’ instruction to his disciples on the Torah. He continues to use the familiar method of teaching by first quoting from what is familiar and then adding his instruction.

This group of teachings began with Jesus’ statement: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) Perhaps Jesus is responding to those who criticized him for not being faithful to their traditions. His response here is showing that he and his disciples are faithful to their tradition and even going beyond what was being taught by the scribes and the Pharisees.

In today’s Gospel Jesus begins by citing one of the oldest laws in the world, “an eye for eye.” It first appears in the Code of Hammurabi who reigned in Babylon between 2285 and 2242 BC. It appears three times in the Hebrew Scriptures. “If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth… (Exodus 21:23-25) “Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; … (Leviticus 24:19-20) “Show no pity; life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, … (Deuteronomy 19;21)

While the exhortation may sound brutal to the modern ear, it was an attempt to introduce a mercy, by placing limits on the vengeance. It was not a law that was intended for private use, one person against another, but for a judge when needing to assign a penalty.

Jesus’ teaching here goes even further than limiting acts of revenge. His teaching asks the disciples to humbly submit to being publicly embarrassed by another, and show that person kindness. To be struck on the right cheek implies that the person has used their left hand, the one reserved for toilet acts. Turning your cheek allows the person to strike again without confrontation.

The vast majority of people only had two garments. An inner garment, their tunic, and their outer garment, the cloak. The cloak was also used at night as a kind of bedroll to keep one warm. If one demanded the tunic in a pledge and one also gave them their cloak, they were left naked. Again, a very embarrassing situation.

Jesus also draws on the reality that Roman soldiers could require people to carry their gear for a mile. Many of those soldiers were the people’s countrymen who had become soldiers for Rome, and they could now ask their fellow Jews to carry their gear for them. For the common person, they were being asked to carry the gear of their countryman who was now working to enforce the laws of a foreign power. Another very difficult and embarrassing position for the disciple of Jesus. Jesus is asking his disciples not only to place strict limits on acts of violence and revenge, but to go to extreme lengths to treat others with respect and compassion.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who are the people who you admire for their ability to maintain a peaceful demeanor in difficult situations?
  2. Who are the people around you who seem to be able to work with difficult personalities?
  3. Do you try to learn from them, or just admire their ability?
  4. What happens within you when you encounter anger, jealousy, disrespect, and prejudice? What helps you to transform these kinds of situations?
  5. What effect does hardship and suffering have on you? When is it transforming? When does it lead to some form of self-indulgence?
  6. Having heard Jesus’ teaching in this Gospel, can you talk to God about whatever it is that you would like to say to him in reply.


Article Comments:

Fr. Placid Stroik, OFM 02/26/2023 @ 12:22 am

Recently in disappointment in others I was led by Richard Rohr to sit and remember: “Be still and know that I am God” it helped


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