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Scripture reflection: ‘Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour’

 |  04 September 2017

Lectionary readings

First reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9.

Second reading: Romans 13:8-10.

Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20.

Link to readings.

Introduction

‘No man is an island’. We all live in different groups, families, communities, neighbourhoods. Today’s readings invite us to reflect on the best way to behave so as to live peacefully with everyone around us.

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel is portrayed as a watchman warning society of potential dangers. Failure to do this will result in him being held responsible for not encouraging the wicked man to renounce his bad ways.

The psalmist urges us to listen to the voice of God and to trust him.

For St Paul, the best way to live peacefully in society is by mutual love. The Commandments can all be summed up by the phrase ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (second reading).

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us practical advice for smooth relationships between people. Meeting and praying as a group, however small, will ensure that he is present amongst us.

This week, then, I may want to focus my prayer on any area of conflict that I know of – and to resolve, with the help of Jesus, to play my part, however small, in contributing to its resolution.

Second Reading 

Romans 13:8–10

In preparation for my time of prayer, I give myself a few minutes to still my mind, consciously bringing myself into the present moment.

I become aware of God’s presence. What mood am I in?

I hand any concerns and joys over to the Lord.

When I am ready, I read the text slowly and reverently several times, letting its message speak to me.

Am I drawn to a particular word or expression?

Perhaps I focus on the phrase: You must love your neighbour as yourself.

I ponder what that means in my life.

What is the Lord asking of me? Who is my neighbour?

I may then want to ask the Holy Spirit what it means for me to love my own self in a wise and compassionate way.

How would that enrich my relations with others?

In time, I pray for those who, for many reasons, do not have love in their lives or may not realise God’s deep love for them.

I thank God for his loving grace in my life, and in the lives of those I love. Finally I bring my prayer to an end, saying:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit...

Gospel

Matthew 18:15–20

After coming to some inner quiet in the way I know works best for me, I become aware of God’s presence with and within me.

I slowly read the text above several times.

After each reading, I pause a while and reflect: what has touched me?

Perhaps I go back to the first paragraph. Jesus speaks to his disciples, to me, about resolving conflict. I ponder.

I may be in the throes of a dispute, in my family, in my work, or in my community.  In what ways is Jesus’s advice helpful?

Have I tried to take the steps he suggests? What happened?

I speak to the Lord about this, telling him simply, from my heart, how I feel about the situation.

Maybe, at the moment, my life is calm and conflict-free ...

but I can remember past difficulties involving me or someone close to me.

I spend a few moments recalling what happened. On whom did I call for help? How did I deal with the hurt?  What feelings am I left with?

Again, I tell the Lord about it and I listen to him. I may now want to look at the last paragraph.

Do I ever have the opportunity to pray with others? What do I find different about praying in a group: a sense of mutual support, an enhanced awareness of the presence of the Lord, or …?

In time, slowly, I take my leave and thank the Lord for being with me today.

 

Reflections based on Prego by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham

 

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