Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 SM 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
- (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Reading 2 1 COR 15:45-49
Alleluia JN 13:34
- Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.
Gospel LK 6:27-38
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time—February 23 & 24, 2019
Can you be an uncommon man or woman in the name of Jesus Christ? In the first reading from the first Book of Samuel Saul goes searching for David with three thousand soldiers with the intention of taking his life but David and Abishai come into their camp at night and have the opportunity to end the life of Saul but David has respect for Saul and believed that God had chosen Saul and only God had the right to remove him from office or take his life and they only take Saul’s spear and water jug. They call from the nearby hill and announce that they have Saul’s spear and water jug. Saul realizes that David could have taken his life but did not. Saul now repents of his intention to harm David and he calls David “son” and they both go their own way. I would call David an uncommon man.
In the gospel Jesus speaks powerful words to the disciples and to us. He says “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . .Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” I must admit I do not always do these actions but sometimes I do something extra for others and sometimes people do something for me which encourages me to do more. One of my most holy moments was when I volunteered to go to Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1981. I was humbled the first five months as I struggled to learn Spanish and met some of the children who were fluent in Spanish and Quecha (one of the native languages of the mountains). Slowly I learned to understand and speak well enough to be understood by the natives. I often had to say “Digame otra vez pero mas lento.” Tell me again but slower! I had to learn not to be afraid to make mistakes.
Jesus assumes his listeners have enemies. We know that even now there is conflict in the Middle East. Who are our enemies? If a family from Guatemala moved in next to you how would you feel? What if it was a black family from the United States? What if they were from Tanzania? What if they were from Syria? What if they were from Ireland? What if they were from Germany? What if they were Moslem? What if they were an undocumented immigrant?
Growing up in Cascade the closest I came to an enemy was farm vs. city football and German Catholics vs. Irish Catholics with a school and a church dedicated to each nationality! I never had the opportunity to talk to a black man and only knew one family that was not Catholic! My Dad taught me to see the good in all people. My experience in Bolivia taught me the goodness of Hispanic people and I suffer with the immigrants and refugees who are not treated with love and respect. All people are God’s children and need to be respected and loved; from an unborn child to a special needs child to a person with dementia. Let us be uncommon people who go the “extra mile” for those around us.
On the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India was found these holy thoughts:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Only by Jesus giving himself completely and without reservation to the point of death is he ultimately raised up to glory with the Father. The words that form the conclusion of today’s gospel are especially apropos. “Forgive and you will be forgiven. . . .For the measure with which you measure / will in return be measured out to you.” We forgive others not so much for their sake but for our own.
Last weekend parishioners visiting a parish in the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin came across the prayer that you find in your pews. I invite you to pray it with me now and then take it home and use it during your prayer time. With the meeting of the leaders of the Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world with the Pope about the protection of children this week it is timely.