Grow Larger in the Love and Mercy of Go

02-20-2022Pastoral Reflections

This weekend our first reading, which is from the Book of Samuel, is about David and his treatment of King Saul. David was not a friend or an admirer of King Saul. King Saul was a venal man who was angry, jealous, and also quite vengeful. He deeply resented David and wanted to destroy him. Powerful people are often paranoid about their successors. This passage tells us that David is given the rare opportunity to kill Saul and end his reign, but David does not. David's deeply held belief was that Saul as king was "the anointed of God". He did not believe he could take Saul's life which belonged in a very special way to God. The people of Israel admired David for his decision to honor God's will that Saul continues to be the king, although they knew David was risking his life. It was obvious he had a very fine sense of who God was and how he was present in people's lives.

Despitethe great character flaws he had, David had a sensitive spiritual sense. His spiritual sense of God's presence was what drove him to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the principal city of his reign. He also wanted to build a temple for this special presence of God, but that was not to be.

When we hear today's Gospel passage, we can sense that Jesus is speaking to each one of us, not just to important people or people we do not know. Jesus is making quite clear to us that He favors love and compassion over strict justice and personal vengeance. Jesus did not support, in any way, vengeance or revenge. Instead, Jesus expects us to have a bigness of heart and generosity of spirit, as difficult as this is. In this passage, we learn that we are called to love enemies, resist revenge and give up settling accounts. We are asked to be bigger than we are and to become more generous than we have been in the past. We are called to grow larger in the love and mercy of God.

We often excuse ourselves from our terrible failures and grievous mistakes by saying "we are only human." Jesus knows that we are only human. However, He expects us to try to be like Him by imitating His compassion. Jesus does not order us to take things into our own hands or to get even by exacting an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. The God of Jesus does not keep giant accounting books or even Excel sheets. His work simply is kindness and mercy and expects us to be about the same.

Our culture and daily life are rife with conflict and division. We have lost our way in recent years on how to put our common good first and how to live with each other. "Self-care" does not mean that it is only about "me" and what I want or should have. We should care for ourselves sufficiently so that then we can care for others. King Saul believed he was right and wanted to kill David. He was not right. David's values were bigger than himself, they rested in God. We should be careful that we are always involved in life in a bigger way that rests in God.

Fr. Brian