Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time 2019
David and King Saul had become mortal enemies. David had the chance and could have killed him. He did not. Instead, David said: “…I will not harm the Lord’s anointed.”
This past week, just around the corner from our Provincial Headquarters in Aurora, there was one more terrible act of violence and five innocent people were murdered. It was one more tragedy, one more act of senseless violence, that has become all too common in our world.
Today’s Gospel message of love is more urgent than ever: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Yes, we need better control of weapons being put into the hands of dangerous people and yes, we need to better address mental illness and treat it. Yes, those who commit any heinous crimes must face justice and be held responsible for their actions. However, just as important, is the moral truth that each person is “God’s anointed” whose life must be respected. When we lose the sense of our own value and worth before God and the value and worth of all others, it becomes easy to allow our destructive anger and revenge to overcome us and so cloud our judgement that we think we can justify the taking of one’s own or another’s life. Even if we don’t literally take someone’s life, we can make our lives and theirs so filled with bitterness that it renounces true life and reduces us to mere existence. Healing and forgiveness take time and cannot be rushed, but holding on to and re-living our past wounds only fill us with anger and resentment and we risk thinking that we can justify our violent behavior.
Jesus says: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Being merciful doesn’t mean complacency in the face of injustice and violence or neglecting to hold those who commit horrible crimes accountable. Mercy does not deny the reality or importance of anger, but it challenges us to channel our anger constructively and come to forgiveness so the cycle of violence can be broken.
Remembering that we are loved by God and forgiven over and over will give us the grace to want to forgive and so begin the healing in ourselves and our world.