SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Theme: Love Your Enemies!
First Reading: (1 Sm 26:2.7-9.12-13.22-23);
Responsorial Psalm:Psalm 103;
Second Reading:(1 Cor 15:45-49);
Gospel: (Lk 6:27-38);
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
David was not a man to show mercy to his enemies or to forget a wrong (1 Kgs 2:1-9); he committed many crimes and shed much blood (1 Chr 22:8), but the episode we read today reveals that he also harboured noble and generous feelings.
Why was Saul spared? Because he was the Lord’s anointed.
Aren’t there Christians among us who rejoice when they hear that a thief has been caught and beaten up? And Christians who hold that those guilty of serious crimes should be tortured and hanged? Can we be Christians if we think like this? No, if we think like this we are not even at Old Testament level. Even guilty people are still “the Lord’s anointed,” children of God to be loved and wooed back on to the right track.
Paul understands eternal life in the light of the resurrection of Jesus. Writing to the Corinthians he says that it is not the spiritual body. The whole person will enter heavenly glory, but with a completely different body.
To explain his point better, Paul uses a simile (1 Cor 15:35-44). What happens to a mango stone in the ground? It seems dead but when the rains arrive, it reappears, no longer as a stone, but as a tree that will grow, put out leaves and produce fruit. Looking at the mango tree could you see in it the ‘stone’ from which it came? This is what will happen to us. Our material body (in bad shape like the mango stone) is given back to the earth and when we rise, we will be reborn into the world of God to a new life, with an incorruptible body, a body that needs neither food nor rest, a body free of all suffering and disease, a body that can die no more.
Paul tells us that this transformation is the work of the Spirit given to us at our baptism. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will also raise us.
Jesus is asking us to love, and to look at the needs of the other. He demands an attitude of acceptance of the other, and to take the first step towards the wrongdoer so as to help him out of his sad state. This is why he says that we must pray. Only prayer can dissolve aggressiveness, disarm hearts, communicate the sentiments of our Father who is in heaven, and give us the power that comes from the love of God.
Jesus explains his demand with three examples: “To anyone who slaps you on the cheek, present the other cheek as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic, give to everyone who asks you and do not ask for your property back from someone who takes it” (29-30). What does he mean? That we cannot have justice or defend our rights?
It would be naïve to think that the words of Jesus are to be taken literally. To love does not mean to put up with injustice in silence, but we must take an active part in eliminating injustice. He rejects the means condemned by the gospel to achieve it. Never pay back evil with evil… if your enemy is hungry give him something to eat, if thirsty something to drink… do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21).
The passage gives us “the golden rule.” “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (31). How would I like to be helped? Would I like to be attacked, humiliated, and beaten up? Let us be honest. when we demand justice for a wrong done to us, we are usually not seeking the good of the other, but revenge.
In the following verses (32-34) Jesus examines three specific cases of “just” people: people who love those who love them; people who do good to those who do good to them; people who give in order to get something in return. All these people are undoubtedly doing good deeds, but if we want to become “children of the Most High” we must rise a step higher. We must have the courage to love our enemies and to do good without expecting anything in return. We must act for the welfare of others (35).
Our reward will be great, says Jesus. Will we have the best places in paradise? No, much more: we will be the children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (35). Our reward will be to have the joy of our Father, our own happiness in being able to love like him even on this earth.
“The Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed.”
A reading from the first Book of Samuel
In those days: Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. So David and Abishai went to the army by night; and there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him. Then said Abishai to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day; now therefore let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can put forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head; and they went away. No man saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them. Then David went over to the other side, and stood afar off on the top of the mountain, with a great space between them. And David said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and fetch it. The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed.”
The word of the Lord.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all within me, his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all his benefits. R.The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
It is the Lord who forgives all your sins, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with mercy and compassion.The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our faults.The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
As far as the east is from the west, so far from us does he remove our transgressions. As a father has compassion on his children, the Lord’s compassion is on those who fear him.The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
Brethren: “The first man Adam became a living soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. A new commandment I give to you, says the Lord, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Alleluia.
GOSPEL READING Luke 6:27-38
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
*Adapted from: Celebrating the Word, Year C by Fernando Armellini— Paulines Publications Africa, Revised Edition 2007