Sunday, 24 February 2019 : Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we are called by God to be people who are filled with love and forgiveness, to be compassionate and to be merciful to all those whom encounter in this life we have on earth. God showed His love to all of us, when He spared us from our fated destruction, although we truly have deserved to be destroyed and be annihilated because of our disobedience and therefore, our sins.

God made us out of His love for each and every one of us. He gave us life and provided everything for us, and God in fact gave and entrusted the whole creation to us, that we may be His stewards of the creation. And yet, instead of gratitude and love that we should have shown Him, we have betrayed and abandoned Him for the devil and all of his lies and false promises, falling into sin as a result.

Yet, God did not give up on us and He continues to love us all despite of the sins we have committed. Yes, He does despise our sins, and sin has no place in His presence, but He still loves us all in our beings, as He has always done ever since He created us mankind. God could have easily destroyed and banished us into eternal damnation if He had desired it to be such, but He did not do that because He truly still has that boundless and wonderful love for us.

Unfortunately, sin is a reality present within each and every one of us, the sons and daughters of man. Sin is a very dangerous disease that is within us, trying to destroy us from within, corrupting not just our bodies, but also our hearts and minds, and our eternal souls. Unless we remove this taint of sin from within us, we will not be able to be reconciled with God, and that is, when we continue to remain in this state of sin, and refuse to cast these sinful ways aside, then we will fall into eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if only we can understand and know of all of those things that we have done throughout the long history of mankind thus far. All the sins and wicked things we have committed all these while, from the time that we have first disobeyed God until this very day. For so many years all of the combined wickedness of our sins have truly become a massive mountain of sin, of unimaginable dimensions.

And yet, in the end, despite of all these, God still loved us all dearly, and even wanted us all to be redeemed and saved. Are we not ashamed at the sins that we have committed, and how we have not recognised the love which God has shown us, all these while? He has been willing to forgive us all these sins, and indeed, He desires to do so, despite of our constant and continued impertinence and stubbornness.

God is so patient and loving, so merciful and kind towards us. This is what each and every one of us have to realise, that for every sins we commit further in life, we are just going to make the Lord even more hurt, for all the compassion He has shown to us, and yet we are so stubborn and resistant to the love He is showing us so generously. God wants to forgive us our sins, and yet, we are the ones who have resisted to be forgiven.

Let us all look at some examples from the Scripture passages today, beginning from our first reading today. It was a story of the encounter between David and king Saul of Israel. In order to understand better the context of what happened at that time, we must look into the historical background of the relationship between the two of them. King Saul was the first king chosen by God to be king over His people Israel, while David was the one whom God had chosen to be the successor of Saul as king, after the latter fell from grace.

David was still a young man when he rose to great prominence after he defeated Goliath, the giant Philistine champion during battle between the Israelites against the Philistines. And David became a commander in the king’s army, gaining more and more influence and fame, as he won victories after victories, and God’s grace was clearly with him. Meanwhile, Saul, who disobeyed God’s commandment, and persisted in his disobedience, was growing further and further away from God’s grace.

Saul saw in David a great threat to his authority and legitimacy as king, and therefore, he tried in all various kinds of ways, to remove the threat of David, treating him with much suspicion and hating him, having tried to kill David in several occasions. If not for the assistance of his close friends, including that of Jonathan, one of Saul’s sons, David would have been killed by the plotting and the attempts of the king.

David had to run away and live as a fugitive for many years, and what we heard in our first reading passage today happened during those years when David was in the run. He has suffered much at the hands of the king, who wanted him to be dead. Yet, when David and his followers found the perfect opportunity to kill the king instead, when the king and his retainers were sleeping in a cave, David conscientiously and resolutely refused to do so.

David had all the opportunity to do so, a perfect timing and chance to turn his own fortunes completely upside down. He could have ended his period and time in exile and stopped all the sufferings and pains he had to endure as an exile and criminal. He could have seized power as the rightful king of Israel, as the one who had been anointed by God through the prophet Samuel to be the true king. And yet, David did not do all these. Instead, he still treated Saul with respect, and indeed, as his king.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us all look at our own lives and actions thus far. Have we been as forgiving as David had been to those who have hurt us and slighted us? Or have we instead acted with vengeance and hatred, with jealousy and anger? It is definitely much more common for us to do the latter than the former. Many of us are unable to let go of that hatred, of that anger, of that jealousy and bitterness within us, and as a result, we continue to hold grudge against one another.

Perhaps we should reflect on the great patience and mercy that David has shown to Saul, and even more so, the even far greater patience, mercy and compassion that God Himself has shown to us, His people. God has been ever so patient with us, despite all of our constant disobedience and actions that had made Him to be angry with us, again and again. But as a loving Father, He continues to love us regardless, and in His actions, He wants us all, His beloved children, to walk down the right path.

King David has followed this very example shown by the Lord Himself, in practicing mercy and forgiveness, compassion and love through his own actions and in how he dealt with those who have slighted him and made his life difficult, principally that of Saul, his predecessor. Now, we are challenged today, to do the same with our own lives, to think of all those whom we may have hated and held grudge against all these while.

Are we able to forgive others just as God has forgiven us? It is not easy to forgive, as forgiveness requires us to let go of the anger and all the emotions, the greed, the desires and the pride present within us. Our ego and pride often come in between us and the ability to forgive, as we often think that to forgive others means that we must humble ourselves such, and let go of the animosity we are feeling towards the other person. And then, we also often refused to be forgiven, because the same ego and pride within us made us to resist forgiveness, as we do not like to think that we have erred or made a mistake in some way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and are we able to let go of the ego, pride and the anger within us? God Himself has shown us the way, and He Himself has forgiven us so generously, full of compassion and mercy. He forgave us for all of the multitudes of sins we have committed and all the wickedness that we have done in life. Although our sins are numerous beyond count, God loves us, and forgives us, and then, how can we not forgive our fellow men our sins to one another too?

Let us all from now on, therefore, turn towards God with all of our hearts, with all of our strengths and with the strong conviction to love the Lord and to be filled with His compassion and love. May the Lord, our loving God and Father, be our Guide and may He show us the way forward in life, in forgiving all those who have wronged us, all those who have hurt us, just as He Himself has forgiven us our sins. Let us all also be courageous in life, to change our way of life, from that of sin to that of righteousness.

May God be with us always, and may He empower us all to live with faith from now on, that we will draw ever closer to Him, and be worthy to receive from Him to promised eternal life and glory that He has given to us all, His beloved and faithful people. Amen.

Sunday, 24 February 2019 : 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, 24 February 2019 : 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, 24 February 2019 : 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, 24 February 2019 : 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.”