Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
February 18, A.D. 2007
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
A brief reflection on today's Scripture passages:
In today's Gospel, Jesus says "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you." I wonder how many of his listeners, who heard this for the first time, gave a disgusted snort and walked away. Of course, if they knew their Scriptures, they would have realized that their great hero, the young shepherd-warrior, David, showed incredible love and forgiveness for his enemy, King Saul. Saul was filled with jealous hatred for David because he feared that this popular hero would steal his crown and rule in his place. So Saul and his men combed the desert for David, seeking to kill him. But God intervened, placing the King and his soldiers in a deep sleep. David crept into the camp during the night, and seeing the King asleep, carefully removed the sword and water jar from near Saul's head and ran with them to a bluff above the camp. When the king was awakened with David's shouting, he realized that his life had been spared. He began to weep repentant tears, and sought David's forgiveness.
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells His hearers that they must forgive and love everyone, even their enemies. Now Jesus knew what He was asking. Nothing is more difficult than to love those who hate us. It goes against the grain. Only God's grace can give us the strength to do this. Jesus expands on this teaching with the "Golden Rule"—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (How different from the Jewish Law that said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.") Jesus concluded His remarks with the shocking news that, on the Last Day, His Heavenly Father will dole out the same amount of mercy to us that we have shown to others in this life! He thereby made love a command. Who would want to take the chance of being damned because of a bad record? After all, loving everyone, even when it's difficult, brings us salvation. No wonder it is said that God doesn't put anyone in hell. We put ourselves there!
Where on earth can we find the strength to love those who despise and hate us? Good psychologists tell us that we're both demon and dove. St. Paul tells us the same thing—we're part "natural man" and part "spiritual man." If we remain attached to the demons of selfishness and follow the "old" Adam, we'll never make it. If, rather, we allow the dove in us to flourish, then the spiritual power of Jesus, the "new" Adam, will help us shun hateful actions, and grow in new ways of forgiveness and love.
New decisions to abandon our selfish ways and embrace a new gentleness in our ways of handling "enemies" is a great way to prepare ourselves for the exciting journey of Lent. It all begins this Wednesday.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)
February 18, 2007
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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