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This Sunday's Programme

Previous Sundays

7th Sunday Year C

Sunday 20th February 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

But to you who are hearing this, I say, love your enemies and treat well the people who hate you. Bless the people who curse you and pray for those who vilify you. To the one who strikes your cheek, offer that person your other one. And don’t stop the person who takes your cloak from having your tunic as well. Give to everyone who asks and don’t stop the person the person who is stealing from you. As you desire others to treat you, you treat them similarly.

What credit is it to you if you love those who love you? Even sinners love those who love them. What credit is it to you if you do good to those who do good to you? Even sinners do that. If you lend with the expectation of return, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners with the expectation of return.

But do more! Love your enemies, do good, lend, with no expectation of return and your reward will be great in heaven: you will be children of the Most High he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
And do not judge and you will not be judged. And do not condemn so that you are not condemned yourselves. Give pardon so that you may receive pardon. Give and it will be given to – the full measure, pressed down, shaken together poured into your lap: for as you measure out so will it be measured to you.


The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 102:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13.

I will praise God from the core of my soul,
every part of my being bless God.
Giving thanks and blessing to God
is the essence of my existence.

God is the one who forgives all your guilt,
who heals all your problems,
who lifts all your desolation
surrounding you with love and compassion.

God, so compassionate and loving,
comes to us, not in anger, but full of mercy.
God does not let our faults and sins
determine how God loves.

From one side of the universe to the other
is the distance God throws our sins away.
As a father’s love flows with compassion
So God’s tenderness flows to those who revere God.


Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving Father, you call us to be as generous in loving as you yourself are but we well know the weaknesses and liabilities of our hearts. Send us your Spirit to school our hearts and lives into Jesus’ way of loving. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

This Sunday’s reading continues the Sermon on the Plain which began last week. Again, there is similar material in Matthew’s Gospel but Luke has more injunctions regarding the radical forgiveness required by the followers of Jesus. Luke’s Gospel emphasises the hospitality of God towards the human race and how this hospitality is to be shown in turn to all. In this reading, we are given practical examples of how we are to respond to ‘bad behaviour’: taking aggression, vilification, even theft in our stride and responding with a generous, forgiving heart. Even taking in to account the dynamic of Hebrew hyperbole in the examples that Jesus offers, his followers are called to a radical transformation in the way they are to respond to others.

The usual human dynamic is to give back what we have received. Jesus’s teaching builds on the Hesed teaching of the Hebrew Testament. In this tradition, God offers freely given love and kindness to all, whether they deserve it on not, with his rain falling on good and bad alike. What God has done we are to do.


Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

One of the traditional Western understandings of the Trinity goes like this: The Father gives himself so generously in love that this is the Son. The Son in turn gives himself back so generously that the love between Father and Son is the Holy Spirit. Yes, that is poorly and even crudely said but it does express a fundamental aspect of God’s nature: to give, utterly and generously, holding nothing back. Made in the image and likeness of God, we are made to give, utterly and generously, holding nothing back.

Consider some the fundamental relationships of human life. When couples give themselves fully and generously in marriage, it is a wonderful thing. (And when marriages break down, it is raw and painful for it strikes right at the depth of the people involved.) When parents give themselves fully and generously to their children, it is a wonderful thing. (And when either rejects the other, it is raw and painful for it strikes right at the depth of the people involved.) By giving generously we become more human because we are reflecting God in whose image we have been made. This dynamic holds for ALL relationships in life, whether to friend, foe or stranger.

It is this dynamic of generous giving that underlies all the injunctions in this Sunday’s Gospel. Such generosity is not based on what we can humanly do, for all of us must quake when we hear this Gospel read. Rather they are based on what we are called to be…and we can only enter into that dynamic if we deeply and openly allow ourselves to appreciate the profound love by which we have been called into existence. Then we shall be able to measure out as we have been measured to.


Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

I don’t know about you but I quake when I read this Gospel. We are all born with an innate sense of what is fair. Even small children in a group pick up pretty quickly when one misses out on a lolly, or if another receives two when the others get one. ‘That’s not fair!’ the cry goes up. Well apply this Gospel to that situation, and you will readily say the children will cry, ‘Unfair!’ Also imagine if the injunctions of this Gospel were applied in society as a whole. I have a pretty good imagination, but all I can come up with is anarchy. But if we really sit with this, we realise there is a profound truth in Jesus’ teaching that we do need to live by.

How much have you received? Too easily, we think we have earnt what we have, paid our way, supported our families, planned for our future. But that really is a superficial understanding of reality. Life, breathe, sunlight, air and all the myriad of things that make existence possible have been given to us freely. When we start to appreciate how much we have received, we come to know how we are constantly receiving from a generous God. Staying with that notion, we realise that we must be like God, we too must give in return.

Following the injunctions of this Sunday’s Gospel are not things we can do. Rather it is a way of being. When we move into an attitude of generous giving, we will find we can react to violence towards in new and different ways. We can put up with and even turn aside being vilified. We come to see that our goods really are meant to serve those around me, not just me. And perhaps most importantly, we can learn how to hold people to account for bad behaviour in a generous and loving manner.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

St Martin of Tours was a popular saint of the 4th century. He was a soldier and a candidate for baptism. When confronted by a naked beggar in the snow, he cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar. That evening in a dream he saw an enthroned Jesus Christ telling his angels that he has received this cloak from Martin. This story has many versions in Christian art. Here are two versions.

  • Simone Martini St Martin and the Beggar a 14th century Italian painter of the Sienese school (click red text for link).
  • El Greco St Martin and the Beggar 16th century. Originally from Crete, he studied in Venice but is generally known as a Spanish painter (click red text for link).
  • Sofiya Inger’s Forgiveness is a contemporary Russian painter, living in the USA. You will need to


  • Changing Lanes After a minor car accident, two men have an argument, which escalates into a feud. Only when they try to see the situation from the each other’s viewpoint do they have the capacity to not only resolve their own argument but also to face their personal issues.
    • How to Train your Dragon The Vikings and dragons have been locked in battle for generations. When Hiccup captures and injures a dragon, Toothless, he thinks it is cowardice that stops him from killing him but it is really compassion. Compassion changes his attitude to dragons and because of it he eventually learns the skills that save both his people and the dragons. A family movie that all can enjoy and one which invites discussion on how we live our Christian values within society.
    • Animal Kingdom Another family movie but certainly one that you won’t want the children to see, nor wish that your family was anything like it. The ‘love’ of this violent family is directed solely to those who conform to their clan. The movie challenges us to ask what type of approval do we allow to operate within our families and within our lives.

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

Loving Father, you call us to be as generous in loving as you yourself are but we well know the weaknesses and liabilities of our hearts. Send us your Spirit to school our hearts and lives into Jesus’ way of loving. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.
Accept that love as the ground of your being.

Now consider a relationship that is causing you serious concern. Imagine that person grounded in the love of God, irrespective our how they act – let them be loved.

Now, grounded in God’s love, imagine different ways you could respond to their behaviour that are not negative. Let you mind run free, think of funny things, silly things, wise things – anything that does not degrade the other person, yourself or another person. Ask Jesus to let you be even freer in what responses you could imagine. These are only thoughts and there is no limit to your imagination so long as it is positive.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.


Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father


Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Our Father


Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father

Another Example
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Our Father

  • Ubi Caritas
    • Where There is Charity and Love Richard Connolly and James McAuley
    • Companions on the Journey by Carey Landry
    • A New Commandment Anon
    • In Love We Chose to Live by Jeanne Cotter and David Hass
    • Prayer of St Francis by Sebastian Temple

On Giving

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have–and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers… and you are all receivers… assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese American poet