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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 20, 2011

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service


February 20, Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Cycle A Readings:

1) Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

Psalm: 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13

2) 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

One of the most important things for us to admit is that we might be a part of the problem. This came crashing home to me early in my marriage. I'll be honest and say that I have struggled with anger issues throughout life. In my first few years of being married, I found myself yelling at my wife for no good reason. I was mad and she was there. In her great wisdom, she seldom said anything in response. She simply left the room.

So there I was alone in a room having just been a jerk. Once I realized this, I went to her and apologized. The problem was that I found myself apologizing three or four times a week. After a few months of this, I decided there had to be a better way to deal with my anger. The answer lied within me: I needed to change.

A big part of our purpose in this life is to grow and be more like the person God had in mind when we were created. Sin has corrupted the world, making it difficult for us to achieve the ultimate version of ourselves. But it is a goal worth fighting for.

This week's readings really push the envelope on self-improvement. In Leviticus, we are challenged to have no hatred for our family, take no revenge nor keep grudges. Jesus calls us to go the extra mile when something is asked of us and to love our enemies. If you think achieving those things is hard, consider that the readings also call us to be holy and perfect just as God is holy and perfect.

How the heck are we supposed to get even close to any of these challenges? St. Paul helps us out by reminding us that we are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in us. It is only by relying on the power of the Spirit infusing our efforts that we will grow.

I have been married for 16 years now. Though I am a lot better, I still have anger issues from time to time. When this happens I apologize and say, "Perfection eludes me." It may be elusive, but it is also coming, one day, one change and one prayer at a time.

QUESTIONS:

What is one area in your life where you have experienced significant growth over the years? What is an area that still needs work? What are concrete steps that you can take to grow and strive for perfection?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

END



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