Homily for Tuesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time

Spite is an interesting part of the human experience. It is a negative trait that most have experienced by being the object of spite or by being spiteful ourselves. In general, spiteful behavior should be embarrassing to the one who exhibits it, but, often, it is chis portrayed as a virtue.[1]

An excellent example of this would be when someone is not moving out of the passing lane quickly enough for the driver behind him. The driver seeking to get by might tailgate the “offender.” In what we know as “road rage,” they pass the slowpoke, move into their lane, and proceed to slow down well below the speed limit, letting the other driver know that their slow speed in the passing lane wasn’t appreciated, all while slowing both of them down. What a contradiction!

The Pharisees in our Gospel passage today were very spiteful toward Jesus. As people concerned with the letter of the law, they didn’t like the fact that Jesus was concerned less with the nuances of the law than he was with the spirit of what the law should be about: mercy and love. In their opposition to Jesus, they took good things that he did – like healing the demoniac – and attributed them to the work of Satan, acting through Jesus. Again, what a contradiction!

We have been told that living according to Gospel principles is not easy; that it often goes against our natural responses to the world. Things like forgiveness, humility, charity, and mercy can be challenging to live out, especially when we feel slighted. Nonetheless, to live out these virtues is the mark of a good Christian and, really, of any good person.

Let us pray, today and always, that the Holy Spirit may guide us to wisdom and understanding of ourselves and others when we feel wronged, and may our response not only bring us closer to the will of God but also those who hurt us.

[1] Angier, Natalie, The New York Times, March 31, 2014

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