St.Antony of Padua


1 Kings 18:41-46
Matthew 5:20-26


Today’s Gospel excerpt from Matthew touches upon the perennial challenges of how we treat each other and how we deal with conflict.  We are often reminded of Christ’s words, ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you’. (Jn13:34). Sounds easy, but the realities of living out that command can be challenging when we see things differently to our neighbour or we feel aggrieved by something they have said or done. Indeed, in a world where everyone is outraged about something 24/7, if we don’t hold any grudges, there must be something wrong with us!  Yet Christ sees how acting out our grievances only makes things worse.  To be a follower of his, we can’t be two-faced, paying lip service to God yet treating others in a spiteful or vengeful manner.  Sometimes we have to back off our high-horse and try to understand how an issue is for the other.

Forgiveness is a popular topic in contemporary psychology.  Empirical studies have shown that forgiveness decreases anger, anxiety and depression and increases self-esteem and hopefulness for the future. On the other hand, hanging on to anger and resentment can lead to poor psychological and long-term physical outcomes.

Of course, we need to be careful not to confuse forgiveness with acquiescence in situations of controlling or violent relationships or naively giving the green light to people who act upon destructive and abusive obsessions.

As with fences, our relationships with God and each other need mending from time to time, and we need to be persistent.  Our first reading today, from 1 Kings, is about persistence.  Perhaps we could pray for today’s persistent peacemakers, who are working overtime in the troubled parts of the world, that their efforts will be rewarded.

On a different note, today is the feast of St Anthony, friend and disciple of St Francis of Assisi (remember Francis’ prayer: Where there is hatred, let me sow love….., where there is injury, pardon……..?).

From the Passionist Companions of St Anthony in the Fields, Terrey Hills, we send fond, feast-day wishes to our sisters and brothers across Holy Spirit Province.

Brian Norman has been associated with the Passionists in various ways since he was three weeks old when he squared off with Fr Placid Millay CP over the baptismal font at St Brigid’s, Marrickville.