Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Fr. Ivan Olmo
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” True love is a divine gift, a holy mystery, a blessed experience, a beautiful thing. Why is something so incredible so incredibly difficult to understand, virtually impossible to attain and difficult to experience? True love is the fruit borne of perfect selflessness, of holy sacrifice, of profound patience. Without God, love becomes pointless and fruitless. True love can only be found, encountered and shared with God, through God, in God, for God. Love is God’s truth and the truth is God loves us. The Cross is a great school for us. It shows us the perfect selflessness of God, his holy sacrifice, his profound patience. We learn about infinite love and divine mercy. We learn how to love ourselves and even to love our enemies. To be good to ourselves and to be good to those who hate us. To bless ourselves and even bless those who curse us. To pray for ourselves and even to pray for those who mistreat us. The message of the Cross is difficult and challenging but the rewards are salvific and eternal. After all the rejection, harsh words, hatred and anger, Jesus remained on the Cross to show us what true love looks like; what divine mercy sounds like. In a gracious act of love, Jesus prays to the Father to forgive those who have offended him, abused him and neglected him. We forget to love. We forget how to forgive. The Examen Prayer from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius is a great tool for examining our minds and testing our hearts in ways we might have offended God and failed to love one another. The format is easy to follow and can easily be used in daily prayer. First, find a quiet place and be mindful of God’s presence. Then Give thanks to God for the graces and blessings received throughout the day. Afterwards, ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to know your sins and to reveal the ways you have failed to love God, your family, your neighbor, your enemy, yourself. Then review your thoughts, conversations and actions throughout the day. Finally, with a contrite heart, ask God to forgive you. Ask for the grace to change your heart and amend your ways. Ask for the grace to love more. Ask for the grace to make a good confession. The more we experience God’s love, the easier it will be to love our enemies.