Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Compassionate God
By: Fr. Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday February 20 2022
1 Samuel 26, 2.7-9.12-13.22-23; 1 Corinthians 15, 45-49; Luke 6: 27-38
The reading of Luke’s “Discourse on the plain” (Ch. 6) is a guide to this Sunday’s liturgy. It is a long and uninterrupted song of love and forgiveness. This love is oriented towards one of the most difficult frontiers to cross, that of enemies. And this, in fact, is the attitude of God who, as it says in the responsorial psalm (Ps 102/103), “pardons all your iniquities and does not treat us according to our sins”. In God, justice is won by love.
The conquest of this freedom of the spirit is also seen in the first reading, in the famous episode of the desert of Ziph in which David, despite having his opponent in his hands, chooses the path of forgiveness. “The Lord will judge everyone according to his justice and faithfulness” (1 Sam 26, 23).
In this regard, a reflection developed by the book of Wisdom is very beautiful: “You, O Lord, have compassion on everyone because you can do everything you can and do not look at the sins of men, in view of repentance. You love all existing things and despise nothing of what you have created … You, master of strength, judge with meekness; you govern us with much indulgence and with this way of acting you teach your people that the just must love” (Wis 11,23-24; 12,18-19).
If we now fix our gaze on the Gospel passage, we can glimpse almost two centers around which the message of Jesus revolves and is ordered. The first is entrusted to a wisdom type dictum, already known to the rabbis of Jesus’ time. it is almost a common, “rational” ethical principle: “What you want others to do to you, you also do to them” (v. 31). But Jesus expands this principle to the limits unbound, he extends it also to the enemies. And only Luke (with respect to Mt 5:44) who adds to the precept “Love your enemies”: “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you” (vv. 27-28). A Christian must envelop all people in this desire for good, even reaching that feared and hostile area, that of enemies. The exemplification of the “slap”, the “cloak” and the “loan” (vv. 29 55) are almost a very lively and demanding concretization. By implication, we are all God’s children united in love and have a common enemy, the devil.
The second center is, instead, based on another exquisitely theological saying: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). The model is now infinite, it is the love of God. And it is through this “imitation” of God that we become his children. The sentence in Matthew’s parallel sounded like this: “Be perfect as your Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). For Luke, love is the coordinating principle of a Christian to his God.
Whoever reads “Lord of the Flies” by an English writer W.G. Golding certainly will have wondered how it is possible that a group of children, who escaped a plane crash on a desert island, undergoes such a transformation as to be divided into tribal rivals, capable of killing each other. The demon of hate is always crouched at the door of our house. The voice of Christ is precisely this one coined by Luke, taken up by John, deepened by all the New Testament theology and rooted in the central message of Jesus: Love as God loves. “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
Fr. Jude Chijioke