SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
In the gospel, Jesus calls us to love our enemies. In the first reading, we have a concrete example of David forgiving his enemy Saul. In the second reading, Paul contrasts the first and second Adam, the natural and spiritual man.
FIRST READING: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9,12-13, 22-23
This story is filled with human intrigue and divine mystery. It contrasts the respect David had for God’s anointed with the murderous intent of Saul. Although David was the one being hunted, Saul was the one caught. Saul had an army of 3,000 men, while David had one companion. Clearly, God delivered Saul into David’s hand. David refused to take advantage of his enemy’s vulnerability because he was God’s anointed. By removing Saul’s spear and water jug, David was rendering the King defenseless and without provisions needed to survive.
SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Paul continues his catechesis or teaching on resurrection. In these verses he contrasts the ordinary human body with the resurrected body that believers will receive. He begins by making a clear distinction between the first man, Adam and the last man, Christ. Adam’s body was made from the earth; Christ’s body was created in heaven. Then Paul says that just as humankind shares in the limitations of the first Adam, limitations that eventually lead to death, believers in Christ will share in Christ’s victory over death, a victory that includes the promise of the resurrected life of the “spiritual body”. The reading ends with Paul saying that just as we were born with the image of the first Adam, so shall we end up with the image of the last man, Christ, possessing a spiritual and transformed body.
GOSPEL: Luke 6:27-38
In this gospel, we continue to listen to Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain. Today’s focus is love of enemies. Jesus challenges us not only to not retaliate against one’s enemies, but also to do them well: love them, do good to them, bless and pray for them. Then Jesus gives practical examples of how we are to show our love for the enemy: turn the other cheek when he strikes you, give your tunic to the one who takes your cloak, lend your money without expecting it back. Jesus tells us: “If we only love those who love us, we are no better than the pagans.” The real test of our Christianity is our ability to love those who dislike, despise, or hurt us. Obviously, such love is impossible without a full-hearted cooperation with the grace of God.
Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say that we must stop judging and condemning, and we are to give generously to others. In all of this, Jesus is our model. While dying on the cross, he forgave Pilate, the soldiers, the crowd who yelled, “Crucify him!”, and his disciples for abandoning him. Also, David models forgiveness for us in the first reading; and Paul, we assume, forgave all those who stoned him, beat him up, and spread nasty rumors about him. Modern day disciples like Pope John Paul, Nelson Mandela, and those who forgive the people who murdered their families all show us that with the grace of God we can forgive what seems unforgivable. The more we work at
forgiving all who have hurt us, the more we will become like Jesus. We will become a living image of the compassionate and forgiving Christ in the world.
Why are some people able to forgive huge hurts (e.g., murder of a loved one) while many of us are unable or unwilling to forgive much lesser hurts?
What are blocks and helps to forgiving life’s hurts?
Have you ever had to forgive God or church? If so, what helped you to do this?