1 Sam. 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-25; 1 Cor. 15:45-49; Lk. 6:27-38
The first Reading from the book of Samuel shows the extraordinary example of magnanimity given by David. David had a golden chance to do away with his enemy, King Saul. But David refused to have Saul killed because Saul had been “anointed” king of Israel by Yahweh. With one of his commandants David sneaked into Saul’s camp and took the spear and pitcher of water from beside the king. In those days, revenge was considered sacred, and to spare one’s own enemy was considered both foolish and dangerous. David’s generosity was something totally out of the ordinary in his time.
In the Gospels Jesus gives a firm command to his disciples “Love your enemies and do good.”
It was something strange to the listeners of Jesus. The Law of Moses established that in case of offences received. Therevenge should not exceed the offence.
“Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stroke for stroke (Ex.21:24) Jesus knew how difficult it would be for his listeners to accept it.
We read about many noble sacrifices that heroic people had made to save others.
In some of the darkest days of the Pacific campaign during World War II, an American submarine called the U.S.S. Growler surfaced after an attack and was surprised and rammed by a Japanese warship. The Growler's captain, Howard W. Gilmore, was on the submarine's deck and realized that the Japanese ship was about to finish his crew off. Knowing he could not make it back below decks in time, he yelled an order to his second-in-command to close the hatch and dive the submarine without him, despite the fact that doing so would lead to his certain death. Gilmore perished.
At the start of World War II, the United States drafted all kinds of professionals into the military, including rabbis, ministers, and priests to serve as chaplains. Four of these newly commissioned chaplains were heading together to England to join their units, when their ship, the SS Dorchester, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. The four clergymen--a rabbi, a Catholic priest, and two Protestant ministers--gave their life jackets to other troops when the supply ran out, and all four perished as a result.
There are also many examples where people sacrifice themselves fully conscious that they are doing it for those who were their enemies.
A few years ago, a man called Said Hotari walked into a crowd of young people waiting outside a music venue and detonated a bomb he was carrying. It was June 1st in Tel Aviv, a warm night, young people milling about outside the Dolphinarium nightclub on the sea front. Most of those around Hotari were teenaged girls – children really. They were waiting to dance and celebrate because it was “teen night” at the disco. When Hotari flicked his switch and transformed himself into a fiery cloud of hate and destruction, 22 people died, most of them girls.
After the bomb, an innocent Palestinian called Mazan Al-Joulani had been shot in an act of random revenge. Al-Joulani’s family responded to the tragedy by donating his heart for transplant to an Israeli Jew called Yighal Cohen. The gift of the heart was an act of grace, of mercy and sacrifice.
Jesus invites us to do the same; to do good without expecting good in return, to love even those who may respond to our love with hatred. We have ample occasions t in our daily life, in our work place, in our community and wherever we go.
Most of us have someone in our lives who cause us anger or hatred or at least resentment, for something they’ve done in the past. Who are these people? Maybe someone who has picked on us or called us names or disrespected us in some way, causing our anger … maybe we hold a grudge against them. Maybe a family member we’ve had a big fight with … maybe we’ve been angry at them for some time. Maybe someone who did something horrible to a loved one. Maybe a teacher or a coworker or a boss who is mean to us.
We can react to them by doing something nice, or with a smile. Everyone is in need of attention. Everyone is need of recognition. Everyone is in need of love. Jesus teaches us to react to all with a positive attitude. To accept what has happened as a part of life. To accept that things can’t be different, because they have already happened. To accept that this person can’t be different, because that’s who they are.
Today’s Gospel concludes with a promise of Jesus. Give, and there will be gifts for you, a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.