Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 19, 2017)

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to a higher love. Jesus calls us to forgive and love our enemies! Clearly, this is no small task. St. Francis de Sales stresses that perhaps the best way to be instruments of God’s merciful, forgiving love is to first accept that same divine merciful and forgiving love ourselves.

Truly in no way must we lose heart. For even though we are weak, our weakness is not nearly as great as God’s mercy toward us, who desire to respond to God’s love. All of us are subject to some passion or changes and ups and downs. Do not worry about these feelings. Persevere in your call to holiness. In all good faith, you are trying to do all for God. It is God’s merciful love that constantly transforms us, so let us do what we can.

First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace. Then take great care throughout the day to frequently call your heart back to that peace. And as it were, take your heart in your hand. If you happen to do something that you regret, do not be astonished or upset. Acknowledge your failing. Quietly place yourself before God, and try to regain your gentle composure. Say to your soul: “There we have made a mistake, but let’s go on now and be more careful.” Each time you fall do the same. No matter how frail and weak you feel, remember that the divine Craftsman delights in putting up magnificent buildings with badly twisted pieces of wood that are good for nothing.

When you are inwardly peaceful, don’t miss an opportunity to perform as many acts of gentleness as you can—and as frequently as you can—no matter how small these acts may seem. For as our Lord says: “To the person who is faithful in little things, greater ones will be given.”

Walk very simply along the way our Lord shows you. Don’t worry. For if little chicks feel perfectly safe when they are under their mother’s wings, how secure should the children of God feel under God’s protection! God’s merciful love is eternal.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, esp. Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction, J. Power, W. Wright, Eds. P).