Reflection for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Imagine if God would need to hit us physically with something each time we sin! Evidently, there would be more people with broken bones and maimed bodies in the world than those who are whole. The Psalmist puts it this way, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered”. (Psalm 130:3).
It is difficult to pass through life without offending people or being offended by them. However, what we do with the offences that come our way shows the extent we can go to reflect God in our lives in the foreground of forgiveness and mercy.
When the Predator Becomes the Prey
The First Reading from the First Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23) tells us how David had an outstanding opportunity to kill Saul when God delivered him into his hands, but he chose to spare his life. It was a classic case of the predator becoming a vulnerable prey.
The background to the story is that Saul wanted to kill David because God favored him with victory over Goliath and the Philistine army. For this reason, Saul was envious and took three thousand picked men in pursuit of David, whose fame was fast spreading among the people.
David had a justifiable chance to end Saul’s life; however, he was more interested in the potential divine perspective to his human action than the need to reward evil with a corresponding evil. So, he restrained Abishai, his assistant saying: “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished?
Overcoming Evil with Good
The Gospel of Luke (6:27-38) gives us a series of “difficult” teachings from our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people see the teachings as “difficult” because they run contrary to the expected human dispositions and reactions.
How would you possibly love your enemy with the same heart that the enemy may have wounded? How conveniently can you do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you, or offer the other cheek?
Humanly speaking, these are exceptionally hard terms and conditions. However, they are not impossible . A closer look at the action of David when he had the opportunity to kill Saul shows that he fulfilled the highpoint our Lord Jesus mentioned: loving the enemy, doing good in place of hatred, blessing instead of cursing, praying for the Lord’s anointed, and even giving Saul the other check (another chance to hunt him for extermination) when he could have ended it all.
Moving Forward! Be Merciful as God is Merciful
What do you do about insults, transgressions, and attacks that come from people? Of course, our default mode would be to fight back, defend ourselves, or even go for litigation in the court, which the civil society sanctions for justice.
The approach differs in God’s design and operation because His thoughts and ways are different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). In the divine mechanics, mercy is the key that opens the door of good for every evil.
Note that Jesus said: “be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” The point here is that there is a divine angle to the phenomenon of mercy that contrasts the human perspective.
God’s spectrum of mercy is the one that comes with gracious rewards. God not only sets us free from the offence and the punishment due to them, but he also goes further to give us the good things we do not deserve. For this reason, Jesus added this in the sermon on the plain:
But love your enemies, and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. (Luke 6:35).
Overcoming evil with good is the function of mercy. We do so not because we are weak, stupid, or do not know our rights. Rather, it means we understand the divine dynamics because what we give comes back to us.
St. Paul would encourage us in the letter to the Romans (12:20-21) to feed and give drink to our enemy when they are hungry, and thirsty for by doing so, we heap burning coals on their heads. He further says, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
God is looking for “Davids” who would reverse the “an eye for an eye” mentality, which would leave the entire world blind. God is looking for people who would go after His heart of mercy by replacing every evil with a corresponding good. If you would like to be one of such people, let your love and mercy touch someone today. God bless you.