7th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, 24TH FEB. 2019
THEME: PRAY FOR YOUR PERSECUTORS AND LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
(1st R: 1 Sam. 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23; 2nd R: 1 Cor 15:45-49; Gospel: Lk. 6:27-38)
The kind of Christian love which our world needs today is the sacrificial love, the love that is selfless and cannot be repaid. Our world that is full of hatred, violence and vengeance, Jesus preaches love for one’s enemy and prayer for one’s persecutors. Love for our family and friends is good but not enough, for it will be repaid in one way or the other and hence not much sacrifice will be involved. “Even sinners love those who love them” (Lk. 6:33). It takes sacrificial love to “love our enemies and do good to those who hate” (Lk. 6:27). It takes sacrificial love to “give away even our shirt to one who runs away with our coat” (Lk. 6:29). By self-sacrificed love, we are not asked to give away our second family car to some thief who has just made off with the first car; but we are called today to love those who hurt us in some way, at least by willing their good and reaching out in forgiveness. To build a better community and world, we need this self-sacrifice love.
In the second reading, just we resemble Adam and Eve, the man and woman from the earth, we are called to “bear the likeness of the man from heaven, Jesus” (1 Cor. 15:49), who forgave his enemies from the cross. To love those who love you and hate those who hate you is natural and human. Even those who do not believe in God do so. But loving the unlovable and pardoning the unpardonable will always be a painful sacrifice; it is supernatural and divine. It is seen in the action of Jesus who is a testimony of Christian perfection and holiness. And that’s is the challenge before us.
Dear friends, our sacrificial love will never go in vain; it will come back to us from God. Therefore, when we follow the nature of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, we are filled with, vengeance, hatred, strife and the like. But when we follow the nature of the second man, Jesus, we are filled with love, forgiveness, patience and mercy. That is, instead of returning injury to injury, we will generate love where there is hatred and create life where there is void.
STORY: A Buddhist Definition of Christianity
I once chanced to come upon an English translation of a Japanese Encyclopaedia. My interest was to see how this89 Buddhists defines Christians and Christianity. Contrary to my expectations, I found therein the greatest and simplest definitions of all I have read in my entire theological education. For the Buddhist author, Christians are “those who believe that they should forgive their enemies”.
This is what we Christians are, or better, what we ought to be.