The 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 20 February 2022
Lectionary Readings: 1 Sam. 26:2.7-9.12-13.22-23; Ps. 103:1-188.8.131.52-13
1 Cor. 15:45-49; Lk. 6:27-38
Theme: Love of Enemies
In today’s Gospel, we hear the Golden Rule – do to others as you would have them do to you. We are mandated to love our enemies and even pray for those who hurt us. Rabbinic teaching speaks of aiding (not loving) enemies to “subdue the evil inclination.” In v. 30, Luke says to “give to everyone,” thus sanctioning voluntary poverty. Rabbinic sources do not say this, as personal impoverishment would create greater hardships for the family and community. Instead, Jewish sources mandate almsgiving (tzedakah). Rav Assi (3rd century)] called almsgiving “equal in value to all other commandments” (Levine: 126). We see a development of understanding and teaching in these sources.
Mercy and compassion highlight the reading from Samuel when David has the opportunity to kill his enemy Saul, but he lets Saul live and recognizes, that he could not harm the “Lord’s anointed.” The psalmist today sings of God’s mercy and kindness offered to all God’s children. This same reality is expressed in Paul’s letter in which he emphasizes that we are created both in the image of the earthly one and the heavenly one (Levine: 350), and thus, as human persons, we bear divinity within us. We are all loved by God from the beginning of our existence.
In this time of great division and the daily crises facing humanity, each of these readings calls us to greater fidelity in following Christ and living as true disciples of the Holy One. We see a God who is good not only to the worthy but to all. This is a call to love for love’s sake (Binz: 75). For many, this may be seen as a lack of justice on God’s part. How can a wasteful son, an infamous sinner, or those hired at the last hour expect to receive such abundance of love, compassion, and forgiveness from Jesus? We, however, expect that from him. What challenges us is that we are called to do the same! To that, we may pause and ask, “Lord, how can I do these things? I am only human and it is too hard to love those who are annoying, ignorant, mean, violent, and hateful.” What can this mean to us as Christians, followers of Christ? We can find comfort in the promise that God will never leave us alone. God walks with us every step of our journey to eternal life. As we learn to love even our enemies, we find that we too are loveable in new ways. There are so many contemporary examples of people with the strength and courage to “turn the other cheek.” Bishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Bishop Oscar Romero, people in our families, and dear friends, are people whose lives and spirits inspire us to love our enemies, those who do us harm, and even ourselves. Ultimately, God loves each person because God sees each created one as precious.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1) How is this kind of ubiquitous love heard by those who are persecuted in our world today? 2) How do you hear this command to love in your lives? 3) Is it realistic to truly love and forgive our enemies even though it often seems impossible to do so?
Bibliography: Levine, Amy-Jill and Marc Zv Brettler, editors. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2017, pp .126, 350; Binz, Stephen J. Jesus, the Compassionate Savior, Twenty-Third Publications, 2012, pp. 73-76.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, Hockessin, DE, USA, Bat Kol alumna, 2001