1st Reading: 1 Samuel 26: 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Why does David spare Saul’s life?
How does Saul represent those who do not follow God’s ways?
How will this connect with the gospel message?
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 42-49
From Celebration, February, 2007:
Paul is here contrasting Adam, the human that initiates all decay and death, with Christ, who by his resurrection becomes the life-giving Spirit and the initiator of a new order of humanity. Where Adam does not listen to or trust God’s Word, Christ listens to that Word, enfleshes that Word, in his very life and death. The body associated with Adam is mortal and bound to the earth from which it came; but the body associated with the risen Christ is immortal and stamped with his image. What Paul is emphasizing here is the need for transformation. “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.” This transformation is moved forward when the mind and heart and spirit of Jesus Christ finds a home in us and thereby empowers us to live, in thought, word, and deed, the challenge of the good news . . . But we are not alone with this challenge – we have yokemate in Jesus.
The Gospel: Luke 6: 27-38.
What is your favorite line here? What is the most difficult line? What do you think is the main idea or ideal with which Jesus is challenging us in this gospel?
From Celebrations, Feb. 2001:
We are accustomed to a very personal relationship with God, even daring to approach God as our Father. That is a good thing. But God has many other daughters and sons – including those whom we do not consider our sisters and brothers. This can be startling, if we ever dare to let its truth touch us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that “simple surrender and obedience are the only way to hear and heed these words of Jesus.” Jesus truly asks us to do to others what we would have them do to us. How are we to do this? Do good, bless, give, and pray. Henry Nouwen says that “Love of one’s enemies is the touchstone of being a Christian.” Walter Burghardt adds that we can only learn this kind of love as we stand beneath the cross and hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them.” We, too, at times have not lived according to Jesus’ words; “the enemy is not always out there, over there or back in ancient Palestine. We are the enemy” . . .
Paul says that “while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus (Romans 5:10). In Jesus, the compassionate and loving God who “does not deal with us according to our sins” (Psalm 103) has become “God-with-us and God-within –us. That presence of God, with and within, makes available the grace to love” . . . We need to allow God’s Spirit in us to bring these ideals to life – transforming these slogans into verbs that we live in our everyday lives: in our offices, in our own back yard, in our homes, in our classrooms, in our parishes and dioceses – wherever we live and move and breathe. Love is an action, not a feeling. (Celebrations, February, 2004)
From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser;
On the idea of being church, Rolheiser says it is a common misunderstanding that “church has little or nothing to do with liking each other or finding others with whom we are mutually compatible. The group of disciples that first gathered around Jesus were not individuals who were mutually compatible at all. They came from very different backgrounds and temperaments, had different visions of what Jesus was all about, were jealous of each other and were . . . occasionally furious with each other. They loved each other, in the biblical meaning of that phase, but they did not necessarily like each other . . . [sometimes not unlike those of us today!] Too often we are disappointed in church because we find there such a diverse and motley collection of persons, some of whom do not like us and whom we would never pick to be our friends . . . To be in apostolic community, church, is not necessarily to be with others with whom we are emotionally, ideologically, and otherwise compatible. Rather it is to stand, shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand, precisely with people who are very different from ourselves and, with them, hear a common word, say a common creed, so as, in that way, to bridge our differences and become a common heart — it is about millions and millions of different kinds of persons transcending their differences so as to become a community beyond temperament, race, ideology, gender, language, and background. (114-115) What do you think of this and this week’s gospel?
From John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context”:
Luke’s Jesus is directing his words to the elite; only they would have the luxury of two coats. Jesus is asking the elite to behave toward strangers just as they would behave toward members of their own household. He is urging the haves to treat the have-nots as if they were family. He is also speaking against the common cultural trait of stereotyping and generalizing that too often judged (condemned unjustly) by outward appearances. Labels were pasted on others – sinner, tax collector, carpenter, adulteress, Samaritans – as a means of controlling and restricting relationships and interactions. (http://liturgy.slu.edu)