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7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13 (8a)
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Luke 6:27-38
February 24, 2019

Most of what Jesus says in today’s gospel can be summed up in one sentence from the beginning, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

This isn’t the way many people today.  They might ask, “why should I do good to someone who hates me.”  It might seem impossible to love our enemies, after all, if I love them are they really my enemy?

To that I will offer two responses.  First, if our loving them has stopped them from being our enemy, that is a very good thing, perhaps the very point of loving our enemies.

Secondly, to ask if we can love our enemies we need to ask what it means to love.  Despite Facebook giving us the impression that we can have hundreds of friends, not everyone is our friend.  People that we have never met are not our friends in the sense of knowing them but that doesn’t mean that we can’t care about them.  St. Thomas Aquinas said, “to love is to will the good of another.”  We are not to curse those who curse us.  In loving our neighbors as God loves us, we wish and pray for the best for everyone, even if they mistreat us.

Why?  Why pray for them?  Why do good to those who hate us?

First, because it is the right thing to do.  Think of what we pray during the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.”  If we want to change the world, someone has to be the first to “do good.”

How much fighting goes on because we think the other person started it?  When siblings fight, one might blame the other for starting it.  When gangs fight, their defense often is based on claiming the other gang was the first to start it.  What about multi-generational rivalries?  For example, the way the Protestants and Catholics had long clashed in Ireland.  How about the Jews and Palestinians in Israel? 

Does anyone know who started it?  It goes on for too long to worry about who started it.  It is time to end conflicts like this, not by war but with love.

When it seems hard to “do good to those who hate you,” start with a prayer “for those who mistreat you.”  Pray for them to receive the blessings they need.  Pray that they be open to God’s Will.  Pray that you are open to God’s Will.

Is it possible to love our enemies?

Yes.  We need to look no further than our first reading.  Saul was the king but David was the one to defeat the Philistines.  David was held in higher esteem by the people. 

Rather than being grateful for what David did, Saul was jealous of him.  David had married Saul’s daughter and Saul’s son Jonathan was David’s best friend.  Yet Saul’s jealousy controlled his actions.  He went with 3,000 men “to search for David” with plans to kill him. 

David knew this.  Those who knew of this would not have faulted David for killing Saul.  It would have been seen as self-defense.  Yet, when David came upon Saul and his troops sleeping, David refused to kill Saul.

He does take Saul’s spear, goes a distance away, and calls out to them so that Saul might know that David had the opportunity to kill Saul but did not.  Why should Saul know this?  To break the cycle of violence in the only way possible with love.

As I already said, David could have chosen to kill Saul and many would have seen it as justified.  Yet, Saul’s men may not have.  They might have pursued David and the violence continue.

David chose the way of love.  It is what God does with us when we sin, “Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes.”  God forgives us when we sin.  We need to do the same.

In ten days, we will start Lent.  What are you going to do for Lent?

Is there someone you have refused to love or do good to?  Perhaps Lent is the time to start praying for those who have mistreated you.  Maybe it is time to stop mistreating others and choose to do good.

How are we to do this?  It is not easy.  To do so we need grace.  Maybe for Lent you need to do something to open yourself to God’s grace.  How about attending daily Mass?  If everyday isn’t possible, how about once a week?  If 8:00 a.m. is too early, during Lent we have Mass on Friday’s at 11:00 a.m.  If you work during the week, we have Mass Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. 

If you can’t make Mass, how about Stations of the Cross Friday evening to think about how Jesus suffered for us?  We have Stations in English at 6:00 p.m. in our church and in Spanish at 7:00 p.m. in the chapel.

If you can’t do that, for Lent, just ask God to help you open yourself to his love, his grace so that you in turn may “Do to others as you would have them do to you.

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