Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. 24-02-2019
by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 11-13, 22-23
Psalm: Psalm 103: 1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Last Sunday we were blessed to hear Christ’s sermon on the plains in Luke which contains the beatitudes that teach us the way to true happiness. His life on earth as a whole was an embodiment of continuous teaching such that everything He said and did including His silence, was but an authentic teaching. Today He does not stop short of this as He goes on to proclaim a new life principle which centres on the ‘Golden Rule’ that demands we treat others as we would want them to treat us. I think that of all the things that the Lord asks us to do in taking up our daily crosses to follow Him, nothing is more difficult and more demanding than the dictates of today’s Gospel: ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.’ We have here four imperatives that should characterize our daily living as Christians even when confronted with evil (to love, do good, bless, and pray). Jesus rejected any recourse to hatred, violence and retaliation, because not only do they fail to solve our problems, but they make our problems become even worse. The only creative attitude He recommends is love, and this is the attitude that permeates all our readings of today.
In our first reading from 1 Samuel we see the heroic act of love by David who decides to forgive his archenemy Saul, even when Saul fell into his hands. Humanly speaking he had every good reason to punish Saul, after all Saul had sought to kill him. But instead, he chose the way of forgiveness rather than vengeance. He told his nephew Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him; for who can put forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David refrained from bringing harm to Saul. How many of us will think and act like this when our enemy who seeks our life is caught in our net? There are many of us seated here today who will rejoice because we always wish harm to come to those who offend us, those who hate us, and we see it as the right thing to do. But is this the way of God? What about those whom we offend, should they wish us harm too?
Well, today Christ teaches us otherwise, that when we are wronged, hated and ill-treated, we must pay back with forgiveness, and that is love. Perfect love will lead us to do good even to such people who treat us bad, to wish them well with blessings and also to accept to help them become better children of God by praying for them. This is the true character of love, to seek the good of the other without gaining anything in return. So love cannot be earned because it is never deserved. Remember, ‘God proved His love for us in this: it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). We did not merit His love yet He loved us and still loves us. How many of us today can love in this manner like Jesus? David loved his enemy in this manner, and that is why he is man after God’s own heart. Why not you too? Do you love your enemies or do you hate them? Hating your enemy is not the solution but love is. Hatred is destroying and killing our world every day due to lack of forgiveness, beginning with our families, friends, colleagues at our places of work, tribes, peoples and nations. We all have been hurt and crushed, but Jesus tells us that He has come to give us life in abundance (John 10:10). To enjoy this life brought by Christ, we must fight off hatred which leads to vengeance, replacing it with forgiveness and love as we have received from God.
For many of us, there are people who have made our lives difficult, and we hate them…your parents, children, husband, wife, friend, boss at work, your teacher, or your next door neighbour. We think life would be better without these people, and we plan to apply lex talionis – law of equal retribution (an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth), thinking that if we do not revenge, we won’t be happy and we might be thought to be weaklings. But Christ today reminds us that God Himself is forgiving and wants us to do same. That is why the psalmist says, ‘the Lord is compassionate and gracious.’ So if God Himself forgives, then it means that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong, and that is why we should leave vengeance for Him who is stronger than us because He alone knows when and how best to revenge for us. Ask yourself today, are you still holding a grudge over anyone? Who is that person you feel it is impossible for you to forgive? Are you still planning vengeance? Begin to pray for that person today. Christ tells you today, forgive and you will be forgiven; and remember, the measure you give will be the measure you get back. As He loves us and readily forgives us, may we readily do same to others, knowing fully well that as we give we shall receive, and in the end be able to transform the world for the better. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.