Sunday, February 24, 2019

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Readings: 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-13,22-23; 1 Cor 15:45-49; Lk 6:27-38

Love of enemies, being merciful and forgiving those who hurt us are some of the words that sum up best the message of this Sunday. The responsorial psalm highlights the theme of pardon and forgiveness ­"The Lord is kind and merciful". You may recall a moment when you were so angry and furious against someone that you tried to retaliate. Well, the story in the first reading from the First Book of Samuel is very close to our life experience. Saul and David do not get along because Saul feels threatened by David's many gifts from the Lord, having killed Goliath in his youth, and now a very popular "General Chief of Staff'”. Saul's solution is to eliminate David, and therefore puts an army of three thousand together to hunt down David. The Lord however delivers Saul in David's hands. The point of the story is to give us the example of David, who mercifully spares the life of Saul. His compassion is a reminder to love and forgive our enemies.

In the Gospel, Jesus calls us to a spirituality of loving and forgiving our enemies. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly". Why would Jesus ask us his followers to do the intolerable? In the first place, Jesus raises the bar of the Law of Love above the Law of retaliation common among the Jewish pagan neighbors. He urges us to love our enemies because they are created in the image and likeness of God. But the most difficult challenge is to be defenseless before the enemy.  In turning the other cheek as Christians, we distinguish ourselves from other religions that practice revenge - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! Moreover, Jesus urges us to practice a limitless generosity towards those in need without expecting any pay back, once again to distinguish ourselves from the pagans.

The message is clear. No matter what the other person may have done to us, even when we know their motives, we must not revenge, because we are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. As we pray the Our Father today, let us deliberately pray for the grace to be able to forgive those who have hurt us, so that we too may be forgiven by the Lord. This call to a defenseless forgiveness; the call to loving our enemies sound foolish, but that is the mark of a Christian. It is a difficult challenge, but an imperative and a basic demand for us all as disciples of Jesus. Forgiveness dear friends in Christ, is a process that begins with letting go of anger. Only then does freedom return. We then go to the next stage of forgiveness, which is to pray for the one who hurt us and remember that this person is also a child of God.

©2019 John S. Mbinda


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