A New Heart

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Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(“Perfect”: In the gospels the word “perfect” occurs only in Matthew, in the passage above and Matthew 19:21. The Lucan parallel, Luke 6:36, demands that his disciples be merciful.)


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant that I may see as you see and love as you love.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Eyes on the Blessed Life: Today’s gospel reading is couched in the Sermon on the Mount, a series of teachings that elevate our eyes to the blessed life. Jesus presents to us a new law and a new standard of love for God and love for one’s neighbor. It is a guide for excelling in true freedom as we lift our eyes from self-seeking pursuits, revenge, and desires to remain in our comfort zone. He gives us a guide for progressing in an inner spiritual journey through our cooperation with God’s grace, and moving from detachment from all creatures and self to that which completely fulfills and frees us–the vision and possession of God. He reveals his heart to us, a heart that is merciful and loving without counting the costs. What are the horizons of my vision? How do I react to those who anger me, to opportunities for loving through mercy?


  1. Baseline versus Living the Call to Sanctity: It is easy to live a life in which we seek to avoid getting our feathers ruffled or a life that is reactionary with our ego at the center.  But we are called to live a blessed life, to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. This is a progressive journey, beginning with conversion and the struggle against sin. The basic commandments that God gives us in natural and revealed law, and through his Church, are mere guideposts for living as an authentic Christian. As we sincerely ask Jesus to form our hearts in the likeness of his own, and we seek wisdom for how to do this in daily life, we form our conscience. We develop a moral sense of what is good, true, and beautiful. Little by little, with the aid of God’s grace we perfect our charity. Our vision, thoughts, and attitudes are transformed. Virtue is rooted in the heart, and the Holy Spirit is able to perform actions in us by which we set no bounds to love. Do I recognize your call to sanctity, Lord ? Your call to love like you love?


  1. “I Will Give You a New Heart”: Jesus speaks these words to me. “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). As I repeat them, I let the Holy Spirit stir up the desire for a new heart and a new spirit. I am open to see “the stone” that Jesus wants to remove to give me a heart like his own. Jesus is delighted to do this work in my heart.


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, give me a new heart like your own, that sees all people with new eyes; that sees all as an opportunity to love as you desire to love in me and through me.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of self-gift by loving more in the ordinary events of my day. Help me be attentive to your call to love as you love.


For Further Reflection: Bishop Barron on Dante and the Spiritual Journey, https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/video/bishop-barron-on-dante-and-the-spiritual-journey/.

Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.

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