February 24, 2019
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
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
“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.’
As the priest read those words from today’s Gospel, a memory that immediately leapt to mind was of the mother of one of the 21 Coptic men martyred by ISIS in 2015. The brother of one of the men had said on video that their mother, if given the chance, would embrace her son’s executioner because it was by his hand that her son became a saint. She also offered prayers for the killer, undoubtedly forgiving him for his heinous sin. What an incredible example of fulfilling Christ’s command of loving one’s enemy – of responding to God’s grace, becoming a sign of contradiction to the world, a shining example of Christ in the world.
I have a long way to go to be that woman. If it was easy to do, everyone would be doing it.
It’s easy to excuse her an extreme example – how many of us will be in a similar circumstance? But when you consider the history of the Church, it is replete with men and women who had shed their blood out of love for Christ. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. The lives of the saints are models for us all. They loved to the end – without judgment or condemnation, believing that God alone is worthy of such things. The saints gave all, and forgave all.
As we go about our lives – working, raising families, caring for loved ones, struggling with sin, attending school – whatever our station or vocation, may we be quick to show mercy and not judgment. With God’s grace we can be as that martyr’s mother – quick to forgive those who hate and mistreat us, grateful to be considered worthy to be treated as Christ was treated. It’s unlikely we’ll face murderous terrorists, but not all enemies wield knives and seek our destruction. Some drive SUVs and cut us off on the expressway. Some live down the street and spread gossip on social media.
Christ taught us by word and deed that loving our enemy is the only way to live well. It is also a guarantee that we shall die well.
Image Source: christiancentury.org via Wikimedia [CC BY-SA 4.0]