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.

Sunday, 20 February 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Sunday, 20 February 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 15 : 45-49

Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving Spirit. The Spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterward comes the Spirit. The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the Second One comes from heaven.

As it was with the earthly one, so it is with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly One.

Sunday, 20 February 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10, 12-13

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

Sunday, 20 February 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 26 : 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

On hearing that David was hiding on the hill of Hachilah, east of Jeshimon, Saul went down with three thousand picked men of Israel to the desert of Ziph in search of David.

So, that night, David and Abishai went into the camp and found Saul sleeping in the centre, his spear thrust into the ground at his head, while Abner and the rest of the soldiers were sleeping around him. Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hands this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not repeat it.”

But David answered Abishai, “Do not harm him. For who could harm YHVH’s anointed and not be punished?” So David took the spear and the water jug from near Saul’s head and they left. Nobody saw, nobody knew, nobody woke up. All remained asleep, for a deep sleep from YHVH had fallen on them.

On the opposite slope David stood at a distance, on top of the hill. David answered, “I have your spear with me, o king! Let one of your servants come over to fetch it. YHVH rewards a righteous and loyal man. Today He delivered you into my hands but I refused to harm YHVH’s anointed.”