Pastoral Message – February 20, 2022
As you’re reading these words, it’s the weekend of the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time on the Roman Church’s calendar. In today’s readings, we’re tracking through some fundamental stories to help form us as Christians. These readings appear to be simple, but they’re not easy.
The 1st reading this Sunday tells the story of David being faithful and merciful in his complicated relationship with King Saul. Even though David is given what looks to be an opportunity to overcome an enemy and thus win the throne, David prefers mercy and honors Saul, the one he sees not as an enemy but as God’s anointed one. This theme of loving and honoring one’s enemies will come up again.
The second reading is something of an ironic compare and contrast between Adam the 1st and Adam the 2nd, a.k.a. Jesus. Adam the 1st was earthly to the point of the corruption of sin, willfully and proudly gained, but ruefully and regrettably condemned. But Adam the 2nd (Jesus) was heavenly, generously sacrificing himself to save us from corruption, sin, regret, guilt, condemnation, death and ourselves. So by logical extension, we would be wise to pattern our lives, our thoughts and our actions after the heavenly Adam, Jesus Christ.
And then in the Gospel reading today, we are taught by Jesus to love our enemies, do good for our enemies, give freely to our enemies, turn the other cheek to our enemies. This isn’t what the 1st Adam above would do. It’s not what any modern day Adam or earthly Eve would do! They would see love of themselves as the greatest good and would take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Heck, they’d take an eye and a tooth for a perceived slander. That attitude or worldview can’t be ours.
We are told by Jesus that loving all, even our enemies, well, this is just what we must do! Now before you say it’s impossible to love in this way, have you spent time praying for your enemies? Not just a quick “Hail Mary” with the intention that lightning might strike. But really pouring out your feelings about your enemy to God. Think of the Psalms. The psalmist was always full of angst over enemies. Maybe you could ask God to help you with such heavenly love. Maybe you could also think of any number of Saints who showed us that loving enemies even to the point of self-sacrifice can be done. Think of ancient martyrs like Stephen, Agatha, Agnes, or Polycarp. Or more modern saints like St. Maximillian Kolbe, or St. Maria Goretti. or even some folks who haven’t been canonized but were sacrificed like Christ- Frs. Rufus Halley or Jacque Hamel or Frans van der Lugt.
I’m not saying that martyrdom should be the goal of taking Jesus literally, at His word. But loving radically while following Jesus’ example is the goal of being Christian. This is the message you should consider on this 7th Sunday in Ordinary time. It’s the message we should strive to live each and every day.
God bless you!
P.S. I kept mentioning the 7th Sunday in Ordinary time above. That’s because I’m already thinking about Lent. Ash Wednesday is just a few weeks away. We’ve got a little Mardi Gras themed dinner coming up. And then Lent will be here with Fish Fryin’ Fridays, Taize prayer time, some mini parish missions. Honestly, I’m not usually a fan of Lent. But this year, I’m excited. So keep living as Christians in the meantime, and together we’ll be ready to begin Lent with the best mindset and most open hearts ever!