YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: RESEMBLING OUR COMPASSIONATE FATHER
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – 1 Sam 26:2, 7 – 9, 11-13,22-23
Second reading – 1Cor. 15:45-49
Gospel –Lk 6:27-38
As primary school children, one of the unpardonable abuses which would always cause a fight between even best friends was the expression "you are a bastard". On the contrary, people are always happy whenever they are identified as the true sons of their father, especially if the father is doing well or was known to have done well. We have a Father who is not only doing well or have done well; rather, He is the best Father ever, and everyone admires Him. God is our Father, and everybody would be happy to be identified with Him. Of course, He created us in His own image. Unfortunately, many of us do not resemble Him. Someone said, “we are like beasts when we kill; we are like men when we judge; but we are like God when we forgive.
There is a call today in the gospel telling us to be the true children of our Father, God. There are many aspects of God we must try to reflect, but a very important aspect given to us today is that of forgiveness and kindness to all. Jesus tells us: “if anyone hits you one the right cheek, offer him the other” – Matt 5:35. This should not be seen merely in the literal understanding of surrendering oneself to be tortured unnecessarily. We have an obligation to preserve the precious life which God has given us. A part of the message in this expression is forgiveness and avoidance of revenge. An eye for an eye is the crude instinct in man to avenge. Also, loving our friends and doing good only to those who have been good to us is a human instinct. There is that tendency in man to keep record of things done to him and therefore treat others according to the measure of how they have treated them. Yet, God is the One who does not treat us according to our sins. De Prufundis (Psalm 130) rightly says: “If you never overlooked our sins, Yahweh, Lord, could anyone survive? But you do forgive us: and for that we revere you”. Such is the mercy of God. It is perfect. We are called to this emulate this.
Christ became man to make us share in His Divinity. By His death on the cross, He has left us a great example that we should follow. He not only taught by words, he showed it forth in His life. We were all indebted to God, a debt heavy enough that if treated according to the magnitude, we deserved to die. But God in Christ, “…cancelled every record of our debt that we had to pay” Col. 2:14.
If we recall the parable of the unforgiving servant, we note that just as the master expected the much indebted servant to reflect him by extending the same act of forgiveness to his fellow servant, God Himself expects us to reflect him by extending same to our brothers and sisters.
Human experience shows that it is usually easier to preach to others and tell them to let go, to forgive offences, than to practice it yourself. Yes, anyone who had ever been hurt badly would believe me that it is not easy to forgive, nay, to forgive and let go. Some deliberate act of wickedness is really very hard to forgive. I remember a time when someone hacked into my e-mail and was using it to dupe my close friends. Only God knows what I planned to do to him if he were caught. May God help me to forgive. The “forgive and forget” we normally say appears to be on the lips. Even those who built the computer made it resemble us by making a Recycle Bin facility whereby we would always bring out things we had already thrown away. I think God has no Recycle Bin in his own computer. He alone is capable of forgiving and forgetting. Psalm 103:11 said as heaven is high above the earth, so does He take away our sins.
The response to today’s Psalm also said; the Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. No matter how difficult it is for you to forgive that offense someone has committed against you, I would make this suggestion. You are not God, surely. You are only His Son or His daughter; accepted. Even if you cannot resemble Him in both forgiving and forgetting, it is possible for you to resemble Him in forgiving. Just take this one step first. To have forgiven means you would not act by that whenever you remember it. You would not seek to avenge. Let us resemble our Father, at least, to this little extent.