Praying Sunday’s Gospel Feb 23

Resources to help you pray with scripture using Lectio Divina and/or Visio Divina

Lectio Divina is a way of hearing God speak to us.  This is the Gospel that will be read in its entirety on Sunday at mass. 

Lectio Divina and Visio Divina on Matthew 5: 38-48

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 23rd, 2020

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Matthew 5:38-48

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Commentary: “The last two antitheses offered in the Sermon on the Mount deal with love of enemies. We should not look at “an eye for an eye” as an inordinately strict punishment. It is actually meant to limit acts of revenge by making sure the punishment is not excessive but fits the crime. However, Jesus asks his followers to take a different approach by resisting retaliation altogether. The response to a stronger person who slaps us on the cheek, takes us to court, or demands a service of us is not to resist. Similarly, for a weaker person, such as a beggar or borrower, we are to give him or her what he or she asks for. Those who are called to the Kingdom of Heaven are to go beyond the way the world usually works and serve God’s kingdom here on earth.    The other difficult demand of those who are called to the kingdom is to embrace the enemy. There is no command in the Old Testament to hate individuals in a personal or vindictive way. But there is a religious stance that calls one to hate evil and to distance oneself from those who participate in evil. In contrast, Matthew emphasizes that love of God and love of neighbor are the fundamental commands on which all else depend. Because God’s love is unconditional, we are to strive to love as God does, though, of course, it is challenging. Is it even possible?   The key is in the final verse. We are to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. Matthew uses the Greek word telos, which is probably better translated here as “complete.” We are not to be perfect as in doing everything correctly, that is, as in being absolutely morally correct. We are to be perfect as in striving to reach the completeness we are called to in the Kingdom of Heaven. Attempting to love our enemies is part of striving for that completeness.”


1.  What do you think about Jesus’ approach to someone who hits us?

2.  Do you think it is possible to like/love your enemy?  Explain your answer.

3.  How do you strive to be complete or righteous as God is?

Other Lectio Divina on this passage:



Visio Divina Resources

Non-Violence, or The Knotted Gun, is a bronze sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. Malmo Sweden.
  1. What do you see?
  2. What do you feel?
  3. What do you wonder?
    • What questions do you have?
    • How is this work related to the Gospel?
  4. What do others say about this work?
  5. Where does your prayer lead you?
  6. What does it mean for my life?
    • On the link you see examples of how the piece has been reinterpreted by colouring it. How would you reimagine this work?
    • Where can you move towards non-violence in your life? (Consider relationships with self, others and nature.

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