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Seventh Sunday – Year C – Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Cor 14:45-49; Lk 6:27-38.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Samuel 26:2 So 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. 7 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. 8 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.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can put forth his hand against the LORDS anointed, and be guiltless?” 11 12 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. 13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood afar off on the top of the mountain, with a great space between them; 22 And David made answer, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and fetch it. 23 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 LORDS anointed.
2/ Second Reading: RSV 1 Corinthians 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 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. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 6:27 “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. 31 And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 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. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.”
I. THEME: You should have compassion as your Father in heaven who is the merciful one.
One time, after preached today Gospel to the children in my family and emphasized Christ’s teaching to forgive, I wanted to test the children to see how they practice God’s words. I told Anjali to slap Raj, her older brother, to see how he reacts. Anjali turned around and used all of her strength to give her brother’s cheek a violent slap. Raj seized Anjali and hit her repeatedly before all people in the family and during the Mass. Their parents had to separate them. I didn’t expect Anjali such a violent slap, may be it is a result of many times she had to endure Raj’s unfair treatment. I told Raj, “Why do you act like that right after I taught you about Christ’s teaching which said, “To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” You didn’t turn your other cheek, but to hit your sister repeatedly?” Raj answered, “because she hit me so hard. If she hit me gently, I shall turn other cheek to her!”
Today readings emphasize Christ’s and David correct way of treating others. In the first reading, King Saul is continuously looking to kill David though he keeps doing good for the king. When David has one in the life time chance to kill Saul, he didn’t react like human way, he took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head; and went away when Saul and his soldiers still slept. After he went a distance away, he called Saul to send his soldiers to come and to take these back. King Saul was very surprise about David’s behavior and the king changed his mind about David. In the second reading, Christ, though he has no sin, is ready to accept becoming a human to die for all human beings. It is this heroic act that takes away all human sins and bestows God’s spirit on all people. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches all his disciples about the behaviors they must have toward their enemies. He also gives the reasons why they must behave like that.
1/ Reading I: One must have patience to change his enemy’s mind.
1.1/ The enmity between King Saul and David: King Saul is jealous with David because David was praised by all people in the country (1 Sam 18:7). When King Saul knew that God has forsaken him and Samuel the prophet has anointed David as king, Saul set out decidedly to kill David. He is on the way to the desert Ziph, together with 3,000 chosen men of Israel, to look for seizing David in the Desert Ziph.
When a chance comes so David can kill Saul and live a peaceful life, his nephew Abishai, convinces David to let him to kill King Saul so that David’s hand will be clean from the king’s blood: “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 LORDS anointed, and be guiltless?”
1.2/ David’s way to handle King Saul: 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. Then David called out loudly, “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. “
With this kind act, David changed Saul’s mind toward him. From that time, Saul recognized God’s plan and ceased to kill David. He must confess these words to David: “I have done wrong; return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day; behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.” (1 Sam 26:21).
2/ Reading II: We shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
2.1/ The same and the difference between Adam and Jesus Christ: St. Paul recognized the relationship between Adam and Crist in God’s plan of salvation. These two important persons have some similarities and differences:
(1) Similarities: Both have human nature. Both must endure sufferings; but Adam’s sufferings are caused by his own sin. Christ has no sin, He endures sufferings to take away sins of people.
(2) Differences: Christ has his origin from heaven while Adam was formed by mud. Beside Christ’s human nature he also has the divine nature. Christ has God’s spirit. The one who is formed by dust shall die; the one has God’s spirit will live forever.
2.2/ We have both Christ and Adam’s image: As Catholics, we carry in ourselves both Christ’s and Adam’s image. We like Adam because we are formed by dust. We like Christ because we are cleaned from sins and He gave His Spirit to us. Therefore, we must be died for sins and lived for God.
3/ Gospel: We must have compassion as our Father who is the Compassionate.
3.1/ Whatever you want others to do for you, you must do the same for others: When we have just heard what Jesus teaches, we find out this teaching is similar with the wisdom or the teachings of other religions; for example, the teachings of Confucius which people used to call “the golden rule” or “the equal rule” which teaches, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want others to do for you.” But if we pay more attention to it, we will see Christ’s teachings is far better than all teachings of the past until now. It is the positive law: “Do to others what you want others to do for you” while “the Golden Rule” is negative, “Don’t do to others what we don’t want others to do for us.” The positive rule is hard to do than the negative rule because it demands people must be permeated by God’s love before they can do it.
3.2/ How can one love his enemies? An analysis of the words will help us to understand clearly Christ’s demands. In Greek, there are three verbs to express “love”:
(1) To express the romantic love between a male and a female, they use the verb “eran.”
(2) To express love between people in a family or love between friends, they use the verb “filein.”
(3) To express love between those who believe in Christ as used in the Gospel today, the evangelist used the verb “agapan.” This verb is used only in the Christian context.
People can’t use their enemies with “eran,” because they can’t love them with the romantic love. They also can’t love them with “filein,” because it is against nature. But they can love their enemies with “agapan,” it means with God’s love. This love depends not only on their heart but also on their will. With God’s love, people can do the “impossible things” as Jesus demands today: “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 coat do not withhold even your shirt.”
3.3/ Why must we love our enemies? In order to know this teachings can be effective or not, we need to see their results. We can list some positive results of Christ’s teachings:
(1) To inherit God’s compassion and forgiveness: If we don’t believe God still governs and judges this world, we have a reason to judge and to get revenge to those who maltreat us; but if we believe God is the One who governs and judge all people, we will let Him do such things. In our parts, we only need to do exactly what He teaches us. This is what He teaches us: “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 coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.” If we don’t forgive others, God shall not forgive our sins.
We know God understands all things and can see clearly our souls; moreover, He has power to do all things. When we generously give out, He shall continuously gives back: “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.” In opposition, If a person only know to hold on to what he has received from God, that all he has or he can lose all what he has. Why don’t we give generously so that we shall continuously have more and all people around us will be benefitted by our kindness?
(2) To become like God: God creates us like His image. The main thing that makes us like God is the love we have for everyone. God loves all human beings because He creates all and they are His children. He let the sun shine on all and let rain fall down on both the good and the evil. If we are God’s children, we must look like Him, especially in the beauty of love and of forgiveness.
If everyone are God’s children, then we are brothers and sisters. We can’t consider others as enemies because that attitude isn’t good to God, our Father. When we pray the Our Father daily, we proclaim this when we say: “Our Father who art in heaven. We pray for your name is honored, your kingdom comes…” When we regard others as our enemies, we are not deserved to say this prayer.
(3) To have peace: Those who nourish revenge shall never have peace. They are always anxious about their opponents or think about how to get revenge. But if they believe in God’s teachings, they shall forgive, pray for, and find ways to do good for their enemies, and their mind shall have peace.
(4) To converse enemies to friends: Love and forgiveness are the best way to converse enemies and restore life for both. In opposition, revenge is only escalated and brings death for one or both sides.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– No one has right to take away others’ life except in the case of protecting his own life. We should not worry about revenging; let leave the judgment in God’s hand.
– We should imitate Christ’s model. He accepted sacrifices to reconcile people with people and all of them to God.
– We can’t treat others as our enemies; in opposition, we must treat others as brothers and sisters and as children having the same Father. When people recognize our love for others they shall believe in our God.