Saturday, February 23, 2019

2019/02/24 - Unexpected

Before Mass:
There’s some back-story to the first reading which we all need to have in mind – Saul was the anointed King of Israel – but he was doing a bad job of it, so Samuel anointed David as the next king.  It’s an odd situation where two can rightfully claim the throne.  Saul was threatened by David – he was popular – a great warrior – and everybody loved him.  Saul was afraid he’d take his throne, so he set out to kill him.  David was on the run for like 15-20 years – living in the wilderness with a ragtag group of supporters – basically waiting for Saul to die so he could step into the throne.  Today’s Gospel picks up somewhere during that time when David was on the run.  The important thing to note is that by every right – David could have killed Saul – remember that.  He was anointed by God to be the king, Saul tried to kill him, and apparently God delivered Saul directly into David’s hand… any sane person would agree that David had EVERY right to kill Saul. 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 81
READING 1 1 SM 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
RESPONSORIAL PSALM PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
READING 2 1 COR 15:45-49
GOSPEL LK 6:27-38

We all have someone in our lives who has done us wrong.  Picture that person in your mind right now. 

Amanda’s Ex cheated on her for over a year before she found out – then he blamed her for the marriage falling apart and in a messy divorce, he left her with almost nothing.

George’s boss has a bad attitude – he constantly demeans him and gives him the least desirable jobs…. Passing him up for promotions and raises.

Don’s classmate bullied him for years – and spread rumors about him so that nobody in the school wanted to be friends with him anymore.

Clare’s mom told her years ago that when she died, she wanted Clare to have her wedding ring – but her sister took it – claiming she had a right to it since she was older.

A drunk driver ran over Jerry’s youngest kid on her bike – leaving her crippled for life.  Every day Jerry has to help his daughter deal with the aftermath.  Jerry is bitter and angry and simply cannot forgive the man who did this to his daughter.

In all of these scenarios, and the one in your own life, you have every RIGHT to be mad – to hold a grudge – to wish that they would rot in hell.  Nobody would blame you one bit for being bitter and withholding forgiveness…. They don’t DESERVE forgiveness.

David was in that kind of situation.  He had every right to kill Saul and, in fact, when he passed up the chance, I’m sure the other men were making fun of him for passing up this chance:  Besides, maybe this WAS God’s plan that David should kill Saul so he could take his rightful throne.  But David did the unexpected:  he showed mercy.

Jesus says – “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

We’ve heard these phrases throughout our lives – they’re nice Christians sayings - - but do we live them?  Don’t read them as some general ‘love everybody’ statements – let them touch you specifically.  Love your enemies – yes – even that person you thought of a few minutes ago – your ex, your classmate, your boss or co-worker, your brother or sister – let this teaching get personal.

You, no doubt, have every right to be angry at that person – they hurt you – and likely are not even remorseful about it.  They don’t DESERVE your forgiveness.  You have every right to wish them harm – to curse them.  Seriously, nobody is going to blame you for striking back at them – because that’s what any other person would do.
But – we aren’t just any other person, we are Christian.  Christians do the unexpected.
See – we are called to be Holy – which is simply to try to live like God – to try to act like Jesus.  When Jesus met the woman at the well, he could have condemned her as a sinner – but instead he loved her and she became one of the first evangelists.  When Jesus met the woman caught in adultery – by every right of the law, he could have joined in stoning her – but he did something unexpected and refused to condemn her.

When you and I sin – and we do that every day – by every right, God can smite us – but God does the unexpected – he shows mercy continually.  If God can forgive us, we can forgive others.  In fact, if we don’t forgive others, not only are we not reflecting God to the world, but we will live in misery.

Think of a time you had harsh words with someone close to you – how did you feel afterward?  Many people feel a pit in their stomache as long as there is unforgiveness.  The obvious cure to that stomache pain would be to forgive and move on – but instead – we hold a grudge, don’t we?  I know families who have been torn apart for decades because nobody will make the first move to forgive.  In our righteous indignation, we conjure up unforgiveness by recalling how RIGHT we are and how wrong they are – ‘well she said this or he did this and they never even felt sorry about it and if they think I’m just gonna forgive them for that then they got another thing coming!’…..and the pit in our stomache grows – and we’re miserable – and people around us are miserable because of us.  I heard somewhere that unforgiveness is like drinking poison in hopes that the other person dies.

Long before Jesus said these words, David set the example for us – instead of grasping at what was his right – he waited for God to deliver the throne to him.  Vengeance belongs to God.  Notice – there's something else about David we can learn from:  if there’s somebody that is dangerous to us or our children -somebody who is toxic to us – be like David and get out of there.  We may not be able to have a relationship with everyone – but we can still do the unexpected… we can forgive them.  It may seem hard or impossible for any normal person to forgive…
...but we’re not just any normal person – we are Christians.  We do the unexpected. 

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