Sunday, 20 February 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us clearly through the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, regarding the need for all of us to show love in our lives, to be full of love and to be loving in all things, for the essence of being Christians is truly that of love. We cannot be Christians and we cannot call ourselves as such unless we truly have love in us, and show that same love in our actions and interactions, in all situations and to everyone, without exception. To be genuine Christians and to be filled with true Christian love is not something that is easily done.

That is why today we are reminded by the Scriptures to be loving to one another without exception, to be genuine in loving and caring for others, even to our enemies and those who hate us. That is what is so different about genuine, Christian way of love, the love that transcends even hatred and animosities. To be Christians means that we have to learn to love how the Lord Himself has loved us and how He had taught His disciples how to love, and model ourselves based on His servants, such as the example of King David mentioned in our first reading today, in him still loving and forgiving King Saul despite all the efforts by the latter to harm and kill him.

In our first reading from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the time when David was pursued by Saul and his men, as the former was a fugitive fleeing the court of the king after Saul tried to have David killed. Contextually, David had been chosen by God to be Saul’s successor as King over all of Israel. The prophet Samuel himself, who anointed Saul as King of Israel, had anointed David in the same way to be King of Israel. Then, David had also defeated the champion of the Philistines, Goliath, and was hailed by the people in an even greater salutation than Saul had received.

Therefore, Saul had likely been overcome by jealousy, by fear and insecurity, as he feared losing the kingdom, the wealth, prestige and power that he had gained as king. Thus, he also allowed the devil to enter into his heart and tempt him, and as he brooded in fear, he ended up contemplating to kill David, so that he could get rid once and for all the threat to his rule and kingship. Saul’s son Jonathan, who was David’s close friend warned him, and David managed to escape, and he and his band of men became a band of adventurers roaming around the land while evading Saul and his men.

Therefore, as we heard in our first reading today, when David finally encountered a very vulnerable Saul in the desert of Ziph, his men led by Abishai, one of his closest advisors and confidants wanted David to seize the initiative, kill the king and seize the throne for himself. After all, David had been chosen by God to be the rightful king of Israel to replace Saul. David had every right to kill Saul, especially after all that he had done to harm him and to persecute him, forcing him to live as an outcast away from the people of Israel.

Yet, as we heard, David would have none of it. He rebuked his fellow men and told them that they could not touch Saul or his men, and particularly Saul because although he might have fallen from grace and sinned against God, but he was anointed by God through the prophet Samuel, and it was not right and just to kill God’s anointed one regardless of the circumstances. Instead, David spared Saul with great magnanimity, and when later on he showed Saul just how close he was to kill him and seized his throne there and then, and yet sparing him, David showed not just Saul but all of us as well what being a follower of God should be like.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus spoke of this to His disciples as well, as He highlighted how His way and that of His followers must truly be unlike anything that the world had ever known before, as others would have told that we must love those who love us and give us happiness, and hate those who have made our lives difficult, persecuted us and made us humiliated and to suffer many things in life. Many would have said that we have no need to spare our enemies and we should hate them and get our revenge against them.

But the Lord Jesus revealed His message and truth, His teachings and way that was so revolutionary and different that all who had heard Him then must have been stunned, surprised, amazed and taken aback by what they had heard from the Lord. The Lord told them not only to love those whom they love and those who have benefitted them, but He told them to love even their enemies, all those who have hurt and persecuted them. He told them not to bear grudges or seeking revenge, and instead, they should even pray for them and continue to love them regardless. This is in essence, what true Christian love is all about.

And the Lord Himself has shown us the best example, when He forgave all those who persecuted Him and cried out for His death, namely many of the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, the chief priests and many among the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the Sadducees. The Lord forgave all of them from His Cross, as He was hung between the Heaven and the earth, praying and asking His heavenly Father not to hold their sins against them because of their ignorance and as they did not know fully what they had done and why they were doing so. To the very end, the Lord wanted us to know that His love for us is truly great, pure and unconditional.

Not to forget that He has forgiven all of us, we all who are sinners, regardless whether our sins be great or small, many or few. All of us have bountifully received from God Himself the assurance of salvation and eternal life through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. The Lord has forgiven us despite our many sins and shortcomings, our constant refusal and stubbornness to listen to Him and the difficulties to get us to obey Him and His Law and commandments. He still patiently loved us and tried to help us in every possible opportunities, from generation to generation, again and again, loving us even when many of us rejected Him.

As St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians, in our second reading today, Christ has become the New Adam, as compared to the old, first Adam, the progenitor of the entire human race. The disobedience and sins that the old, first Adam had brought into this world had been overcome by Christ, the New Adam, Whose coming into this world brought forth the long promised salvation that God had intended ever since the time when mankind first fell into sin, and yes, that was during the time of the old Adam. Through Christ, all of us have been brought into a new existence in God, a life of sanctity and purity, filled with love for God and for one another.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the question is, are we willing and able to follow the Lord and His examples, the examples of His many servants and disciples, such as what was shown by King David of Israel when he spared King Saul, his predecessor, and acted with great honour and virtue then, as well as in various other occasions? All of us have received the love of God, and we have witnessed the love of God made manifest, and now we are all reminded that we have the obligation to show that same love in our daily living, in all of our words, actions and deeds, in our every works and interactions.

Let us all make good use of the time, the opportunities, the many blessings and wonders that God had granted to us, all that He has provided for us so that we may find our way to Him, by leading a most faithful and dedicated, loving Christian life in our respective communities, in our families, among our relatives and friends, and even among strangers and even, as the Lord mentioned, amidst all those who despised us and in the plain sight of all those who have hated us and made our lives difficult. We are all challenged to be ever better Christians, first of all in loving God and then in loving our fellow men, even our enemies, genuinely from our hearts.

May the Lord, our most loving, compassionate and forgiving God show us the way to be ever more loving, more filled with genuine and warm love, so that we no longer be selfish and be self-indulgent, in only caring for ourselves, but also be filled with strong love for our fellow men, especially for those who have been unloved. May all of us be great witnesses and bearers of the love of God in our communities, now and always. Amen.

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