Sunday Church at Home, 07th Sunday in OT, 20th February 2022

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7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

20th February, 2022

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Love Your Enemies!

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:      Amen

Leader:        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:      Blessed be God for ever

Leader:        Today we hear again the extraordinary teachings of Jesus that changed the world for ever. By our refusal to hate, we too may make our world a better place for everyone.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: 1 Samuel 26:2.7-9.12-13.22-23

Introduction to the reading:

In this reading we hear of Saul and David.  Saul became the first king of Israel, about 1000 years before Christ.  David, best known for slaying Goliath, was also a talented musician and became one of the favourites at Saul’s court.  Eventually the king grew jealous of the popular David who had to flee for his life.

A reading from the First Book of Samuel.

In those days:
Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph,
with three thousand chosen men of Israel,
to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.

So David and Abishai went to the army by night;
and there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment,
with his spear stuck in the ground at his head;
and Abner and the army lay around him.
Then said Abishai to David,
“God has given your enemy into your hand this day;
now, therefore, let me pin him to the earth
with one stroke of the spear,
and I will not strike him twice.”

But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him;
for who can put forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed,
and be guiltless?”

So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head,
and they went away.
No one saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake;
for they were all asleep
because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

Then David went over to the other side,
and stood afar off on the top of the mountain,
with a great space between them.

And David said, “Here is the spear, O king!
Let one of the young men come over and fetch it.
The Lord rewards every person
for his righteousness and his faithfulness;
for the Lord gave you into my hand today,
and I would not put forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103:1-2.3-4.8 & 10.12-13 (R. 8a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and never forget all his benefits.

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion,

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults.

As far as the east is from the west,
so far from us does he remove our transgressions.
As a father has compassion on his children,
the Lord’s compassion is on those who fear him.

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

Introduction to the reading: Paul’s converts at Corinth had a lot of questions about life after death, and on the last two Sundays we’ve heard Paul addressing these.  Today he uses a parallel.  Just as we receive our human life from our ancestors – ultimately Adam – so we receive risen life from Jesus, who could be called the “new Adam”.

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

“The first human Adam became a living soul”;
the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical,
and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, a man of dust;
the second man is from heaven.
As was the man of dust,
so are those who are of the dust;
and as is the man of heaven,
so are those who are of heaven.
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust,
we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
A new commandment I give to you, says the Lord, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.
Alleluia!

Gospel: Luke 6:27-38

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus said to his disciples,
“I say to you that hear,
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.
To the one who strikes you on the cheek,
offer the other also;
and from the one who takes away your cloak
do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you,
and of the one who takes away your goods
do not ask them again.
And as you wish that others would do to you,
do so to them.

“If you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same.
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good,
and lend, expecting nothing in return;
and your reward will be great,
and you will be children of the Most High;
for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged;
condemn not, and you will not be condemned;
forgive, and you will be forgiven;
give, and it will be given to you;
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.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

The Sunday sermon was, “Forgive Your Enemies.” The priest asked, “How many have forgiven their enemies?” About half held up their hands. He then repeated the question. This time about eighty percent held up their hands. He then repeated his question a third time. The entire congregation held up their hands except one elderly lady. “Mrs. Jones,” the priest asked, “aren’t you willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any” she replied. “That is very unusual”, the priest said. “Mrs. Jones, please tell us all how a person cannot have an enemy in the world.” The dear lady announced in her most penetrating voice: “It’s easy; I am 93 years old and I just outlived all those rascals!” 😊

Jesus said to his disciples,

“Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.”

Jesus’ command is a huge challenge for us.

I am certain that Jesus understood how difficult it is to love one’s enemy. Jesus never made light of the challenges we face in living the moral life. His own human experience taught him that every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God. So when Jesus said, “Love your enemy,” he was mindful of its demanding qualities. Yet he meant every word of it. Our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it our in our daily lives.

Let us be practical and ask the question, How do we love our enemies?

First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. The person who does not have the power to forgive lacks the power to love. The act of loving one’s enemies begins when we accept the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is important to remember that act of forgiveness must be started by the person who has been wronged.

It is only the victim of abuse, the recipient of injustice, the victim of oppression who can begin the process of forgiveness.  The perpetrator may request forgiveness. It is possible for an oppressor, like the prodigal son, to come to their senses, have a change of heart and ask for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbour can really pour out the warm water of forgiveness.

Jesus does not want us to be doormats, for example, to put up with domestic violence, or any other kind of abuse. Tyrants and armies of oppression have violated and enslaved people throughout history. For the Romans occupiers, the Jewish people were just there to add wealth to the Roman Empire. The Romans had the power and could, for example, take their cloaks at any time; or slap their cheek at will.

Jesus’ message to these enslaved people was one of liberation. They may not have had dignity before the Romans, the high priests and the rich who colluded with them, but they were valuable treasures in God’s eyes. Though they may have felt like that they were treated like rubbish, that was not their condition before God. God loved them, not for what they had achieved, but because God has always loved the least.

So, if someone heard Jesus’ message and believed they were loved and precious to God then, when a Roman, or rich land owner, forcibly took their cloak, imagine their embarrassment when the violated person took off their tunic and handed it to them as well.

When a Roman soldier slapped them on the cheek and if the victim turned the other cheek as Jesus teaches, who is the stronger of the two, the soldier, or the one who claimed his or her dignity before God and put aside hatred and ill will?

Archbishop Oscar Romero, was martyred in San Salvador in 1980. He  who lived in a similar world of an oppressive military that victimized its citizens. He said, “The counsel of the gospel to turn the other cheek to an unjust aggressor shows great moral force that leaves the aggressor morally overcome and humiliated.”

The setting of a gospel story is important for understanding its meaning. Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He not talking to a crowd of curious onlookers. He is talking to those already committed to him who, like us, have faith and are open to grace. A disciple is literally one who sits at the feet of a teacher. That is where Jesus’ disciples heard his teachings about God: that we do not obey his teachings to earn God’s love. Rather, we already have that love.

In fact, Jesus taught them that: “The Most High is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Therefore, the disciple strives to imitate God because they already having God’s love. We do not act this way so God will be merciful. We love and forgive because God is already merciful towards us and so we can be merciful with others.

Jesus says:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

How can we love without any return? How can we lend money and expect nothing back? Jesus says that if you get a reward for each thing you do, you are just like the pagans.

Jesus’ answer is found in a wonderful clue toward the end of today’s Gospel. Jesus says,

‘you will be children of the Most High;
for (the Lord) is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.’

God is “always kind” because all his “needs” are already filled. God’s love does not demand reward. It overflows to us because we are the children of God.When we experience it—in the sacraments, or in prayer, or in another person – then maybe our hearts will be filled up with God’s love. And then, God’s love will flow out to others through us.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, Love your enemies,

do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,

pray for those who mistreat you.”

Reflection:

Living the Christian life as Jesus teaches in his sermon would make no sense if God did not exist. To live a normal human life would be doing what most people do. But Christians are recognized because there is no earthly reason for doing what we do.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What touched me in the Word of God today?
  • Who is the enemy I am being called to love?
  • What help do I need from God to do that?

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:       

Let us bring our petitions before the Lord who gives generously to all who ask.

Reader:

We pray for forgiveness and healing in the Church:  that God will heal the wounds that have weakened the Body of Christ and renew our spirits to further the mission of Jesus

LORD HEAR US

We pray for freedom of heart: that the Spirit will free us from returning evil for evil and instead guide us in confronting evil with love and mercy

LORD HEAR US

We pray for new eyes and hearts: that the Spirit will help us to recognize those in need as our sisters and brothers and give us the courage to respond to them as friends

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are alienated from the church: that God will heal their hurts and help them to find welcome and acceptance in our communities

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all taking part in Alpha online:

that the Lord may bless this season with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

Leader:        Let us pray our prayer against corruption:

Lord,

we present our country South Africa before you.

We exalt and bless your name

for all the blessings, graces and love

that you have given to us as a nation.

Our country is now weighed down

by many social, political and economic problems.

We pray for a spirit of conversion

in our nation and its leadership;

that all hearts may turn away from greed and corruption

and work for justice and peace.

Protect those who speak out against greed, patronage and corruption;

give them the wisdom and courage to be the voice of the marginalised.

Renew our nation and its leadership by the light of the Gospel.

Help us to live out the values of your kingdom.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:        Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:          

God of pardon and deliverance,

your forgiving love, revealed in Christ,

has brought to birth a new creation.

Raise us up from our sins

to walk in your ways,

that we may witness to your power,

which makes all things new.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Blessing

The leader says:

May God bless us with every heavenly blessing,

and make us always holy and pure in his sight.

Amen.

May God pour out in abundance upon us the riches of his glory,

and teach us with the words of truth.

Amen.

May God instruct us in the Gospel of salvation,

and ever endow us with fraternal charity.

Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:               Amen.

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