1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
In those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph. So David and Abishai went among Saul’s soldiers by night and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade, with his spear thrust into the ground at his head and Abner and his men sleeping around him. Abishai whispered to David: “God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!” But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished?” So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul’s head, and they got away without anyone’s seeing or knowing or awakening. All remained asleep, because the Lord had put them into a deep slumber. Going across to an opposite slope, David stood on a remote hilltop at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner, and the troops. He said: “Here is the king’s spear. Let an attendant come over to get it. The Lord will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness. Today, though the Lord delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.”
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Brothers and sisters: It is written, the first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. 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. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? 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? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
This Sunday we hear some of the most difficult teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But first, let us reflect a bit about our faith. At the very basis of our faith is a belief in God. Today more and more people don’t believe in God at all. Even many people who would call themselves Catholics say that they do not believe in a God. That is difficult to imagine, perhaps, but it is documented in at least one opinion poll. Let us assume for a moment that all of us here believe in God.
We who believe in God also believe that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. We have our own distinctive creation stories in our Bible, the Holy Scriptures. We believe that God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, to be our Savior. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
This short statement of what we believe, our Creed, is really important today. We want to continue to understand more profoundly what we believe. Only in the context of this belief do the teachings of Jesus make sense. We accept the teachings of Jesus first of all because He is God our Savior.
Jesus teaches us how to be faithful to God. He also teaches us a wisdom tradition. We must be careful here and not think that Jesus teaches us only human wisdom. On the other hand, divine teaching reveals to us the best of human wisdom. The danger with thinking of the teachings of Jesus as simply human wisdom is that people can begin to discard his teachings, thinking that we have better wisdom today because we life in a different age, we have a deeper understanding of human psychology, we are more aware of the diversity of the human family and for lots of other reasons.
At the heart of the teachings of Jesus that we hear today are two teachings that are so important in our lives: forgiveness and acceptance of mistreatment. Jesus tells us “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” These teachings are so against our modern ways of thinking! Yes these same teachings would revolutionize our present world if we all lived them. The challenge is not to think to ourselves: “Nobody lives that way.” Rather, we can be thinking: “How can I live this way because Jesus has invited me to live this way.”
We see these teachings today in the story of David’s relationship with King Saul. We also see this today clearly in the Gospel reading. In the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul tells us that we bear the image of the first man and we can bear the image of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray today that our hearts might truly be open to forgiveness and to the acceptance of being treated badly. Let us love all of our enemies: the enemies of our country, the enemies of our families, our personal enemies, the enemies of our Church and whatever enemy there is. Let us love the outcasts, the lepers of our times: anyone that we would not want to live with on a regular basis! Let us learn to do good for all of these enemies. Let us bless them and pray for them. What a world we can create together if we walk this path with our Lord Jesus Christ! In our celebration of the Holy Mass today, may God give us strength! Let us remember this phrase from today’s Gospel: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”