7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (1 Sam 26:2, 7-9,12-13,22-25; Lk 6:27-38) “These Blessings Keep Falling Into Our Laps!” PDF Version
Homily for the 7th Sunday of OT, Year C (2019): 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-25; Lk 6: 27-38
There is an old saying that God will not give you more than you can handle. Many dare to believe that this is true and that God in His love will provide the grace to persevere in the trials that come our ways.
But for those who first listened to this later portion of the Sermon on the Mount and Christians up to this very moment who have heard our Lord’s commands to love our enemies, be merciful as God is merciful and forgo judgment in the place of forgiveness, may step back and say that what God is asking is nearly impossible and but a few, very holy people will actually fully abide in this New Commandment that Christ has given to everyone who bears the name of Christian.
This is an overwhelming scriptural passage, all the more so because so much is asked of us in a mere 11 verses of the Gospels. Jesus sets the bar of love, mercy and non-judgment at an incredible high level, one that by human effort alone can never be achieved and with the grace of God will demand very real struggle and humble recognition that we will fail time and time again to love as Christ loved us, even to the point of death, death on a Cross.
But in the midst of all these challenging commands that Our Lord places upon us, not as optional teachings we can choose to follow or reject, but ones we must make central to our lives as disciples, we may forget that wonderful blessing that Christ promises to those who follow His teachings, that “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
In Jesus’ day, “by folding one’s cloak over your belt, a pouch could be formed to carry grain from the marketplace. When the grain was shaken and running over, the buyer was guaranteed a full and honest amount.” (Ignatius Study Bible, Gospel of St. Luke, Pg.119)
Our Lord used this experience from daily life to show that God’s generosity overflows on our behalf if we choose to love our enemies, to be merciful, to omit judgment and to show charity to those who may very likely abuse our good deeds for their own selfish desires.
As contradictory as it may sound, the more we live as Christ commands us, the happier we will be, the more we will be inclined to show gratitude to God and the more we will live free of those regrets and bonds that are tied in our hearts when we seek vengeance, judgement without mercy and un-forgiveness to mark our relationships with others.
If we remain unconvinced or sceptical that to abide in these teachings will result in a spiritual torrent of blessings to fall into our laps, consider for example why we should seek to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
A 16thcentury spiritual writer, Fr. Luis de Granada, commented that “the first quality of this virtue [of being merciful] is that it makes men like God and like the most glorious thing in Him, His Mercy. For certainly the greatest perfection a creature can have is to be like his Creator; and the more like Him he is, the more perfect he is.” (Book of Prayer and Meditation, Part III, Treatise III). Perhaps we never considered that to show mercy, that is, to enter into the misery of another person and seek to alleviate it, is to make us be like God!
Now let us not get carried away and think we are somehow becoming little gods, but rather that we are realizing that since we are made in God’s image and likeness, that this reality of His being shines forth most gloriously when we abide and show mercy just as God never ceases to show mercy to us. And in a time when many struggle to believe that God is real, what better way to help them in their unbelief than to show that God exists in the ways His mercy is manifested in the lives of His disciples!
Thus, the measure of mercy we will give will be a measure of mercy we get back, pressed down, shaken together, running over, a good measure that will bring us happiness now and into life eternal.
Or consider today the way in which David choose to love his enemy, King Saul. Saul had been like a father to David, giving him his daughter Abigail in marriage, making him a commander of his armies, allowing a mere shepherd boy to become the most beloved hero of the People of Israel.
But jealousy began to consume Saul, and the love he once had for his adopted son turned to hate and vengeance. David had been horribly wronged by Saul and many would say that David would be justified in taking advantage of the opportunity to dispatch Saul in the peace of sleep, that cousin of death.
But David choose the path of mercy, forgiveness and love, to love the one who showed him such great hate. David choose to be free of the burden of regret that would have come from his vengeance, and the unsatisfied justice that would allow him to eliminate his enemy when a greater and more lasting justice was found in showing him mercy, honouring Saul as the Lord’s anointed king and allowing God to show judgment and justice to Saul for the wrong he had done to David.
So too we have the opportunity time and time again to forgo living in the regret that comes from choosing the path of vengeance by instead striving for justice that is marked by mercy, forgiveness and love of one’s enemies.
And if we have walked that path of vengeance, un-forgiveness and cold justice, how consoling it is to know that God will offer us forgiveness, most powerfully in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is so often the first step in being able to then amend the broken relationships that our vengeance, un-forgiveness and cold justice have brought into our lives and that of others, both those we love and those we have little desire to love.
That too, my friends, is a good measure worth pursuing, one that brings freedom to weary hearts and the ability to once again act as God does in showing mercy.
With Lent soon upon us, may we consider keeping these 11 verses of the Gospel in mind. Visit them from time to time during Lent, asking where Our Lord is showing us how to make amends for past hurts or simply to have a greater desire to do all that Christ commands of us as His disciples and friends.
A good measure awaits those who follow Him! Let us never forget that this is the end game that ultimately matters and why we should seek to run the race of faith, daily, and finish it well.