Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our Gospel today continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, in which we heard Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. This week, Jesus gives us new “commandments,” telling us how to live and act in the world as his disciples, rooted in the radical love of God for humanity. It reminds us of his later speech about loving one another as he loves us, in other words with a God-like love, the kind we see in today’s psalm about God’s mercy. How else could we do as Jesus tells us by loving our enemies, which seems impossible, until we remember that God gave us the example of Jesus, who is like God but also like us? David understands this merciful love when he spares the life of his enemy in the first reading. Finally, Paul tells us that we will become like Jesus if we act as he did, as God does.
Have you ever read or heard anything about Jesus being called a “radical”? What such a statement ignores is that God has been a radical all through salvation history. What kind of superior being forgives the kind of unloving actions humankind has committed through the centuries? Answer: a God of radical mercy, kindness, love. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that, like himself, like God, we must love with God-like radical compassion, even those who are our “enemies.” Didn’t Jesus give us an extreme example, forgiving those who put him to death? How difficult it is to be like God, like Jesus, forgiving, even loving, the very people who have treated us badly!
The first reading gives another example. David was under a death sentence by King Saul, who had become David’s enemy through jealousy. Given an opportunity to murder Saul in his sleep, David chose to let him live, out of respect for God’s will toward Saul. David recognized that the only way for him to do God’s will was to love Saul, his enemy, enough to refrain from being judge, jury, and executioner.
BEARING A GOD-LIKE IMAGE
Today’s psalm praises God for showing mercy toward us, even though we are weak-willed and consistently in need of forgiveness. God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, too, and calls us to show this God-like mercy to all. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he tells us that by living and loving as Jesus did, as new creatures, we will bear his image as well. That being the case, and knowing that we are all children of a merciful God, made in God’s image and likeness, we take on the image of Jesus through God-like kindness and compassion.
That word “radical” comes from the Latin word for root (radix)—we hear this truth every year during the season of Advent. One of the “names” of the Promised One, Jesus, is “Root” of Jesse—indeed, a radical from before his birth.
Today’s Readings: 1 Sm 26:2, 7–9, 12–13, 22–23; Ps 103:1–2, 3–4, 8, 10, 12–13; 1 Cor 15:45–49; Lk 6:27–38
Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.