February 18, 2022

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe First Book of Samuel is the source of the first reading for Mass this weekend. Ancient in origin, scholars trace its beginnings to six centuries before Christ.

This reading focuses on David, whom the Hebrews regarded as the divinely commissioned and protected leader without peer of the people of Israel.

Also revealed is the development of the people and of the kingdom of Israel. It was not all a story of sweetness and life. Plentiful are accounts of struggle, intrigue and perplexity.

Through it all, though, God guided the people. Relying upon this guidance, the people survived and flourished. And David, God’s representative, survived.

For the second reading, the Church presents a passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. It is a story of development, not of a nation such as the kingdom of Israel, but of human hearts. Tarry not with the earthly but aspire to spiritual good, Paul advises.

The Apostle Paul is remembered justifiably as the great evangelizer of early Christianity, who took the message of Jesus far and wide.

Many heard and followed him: Titus, Timothy and Phoebe, for example. They in turn became legends in the Church.

Others, it must be noted, ignored Paul or rejected him. Indeed, he was resented so much in some circles that he died a martyr.

His appeal to turn to Christ meant turning away from all that seemed natural and obvious. This fact was nowhere more evident than among the Corinthians.

St. Luke’s Gospel supplies the last reading.

This Gospel is a favorite biblical source for Catholics committed to the social doctrine of the Church, because it is blunt and uncompromising as it calls for total conversion to Christ, as conversion means taking every step to redeem the world by bringing the mercy and justice of the Lord to real life.

Luke’s idea of conversion was revolutionary because it demanded not only absolute dedication, but also an acuteness in perception and a subjection of instinct.

Love your enemies! Offer the other cheek! Give to everyone who asks of you! Do unto others as you would have them do to you!

These words are hard. They were as hard for Luke’s first audience as they always have been for humans, including people today. Many say that they do not make sense. They certainly are not the way of the world.

The bottom line is that genuine Christianity very often runs against the current, pursuing the spiritual treasure of the Gospel rather than the presumptions of earthly life.


In less than two weeks, the Church will observe Ash Wednesday at the start of Lent.

Lent is much more than giving up candy. It is about achieving an absolute transformation in life, in assessing reality, making judgments and in behavior.

Such transformation was not easy or quick for the Hebrews of Samuel’s time, for the Corinthians to whom St. Paul wrote, or the Christians who first read the Gospel of St. Luke.

Simply stated, honest discipleship is hard. It calls for a revolution of heart, mind and action, revolving from selfishness and earthly assumptions, indeed even instincts to uniting with the Lord in every respect, in every thought, every word, and every deed.

The Church offers Lent as a process to accomplish this transformation, this revolution in heart and soul with the necessary help of God’s grace.

By using Lent as a tool, an incentive and an aide, the Church urges us to this absolute commitment to and union with Christ. It appeals to us to follow the Lord, to allow him to redeem us with his grace and, in the process, to work with him to redeem the world around us.

As we approach Lent, we should ask ourselves what is its purpose and what does it mean, truly, profoundly, personally? Ash Wednesday is coming. †

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