Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 24, 2019
There’s a built-in irony in today’s Liturgy of the Word. We read from Luke’s Gospel, and Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain,” which was introduced last week. Jesus delivers a radical message about how to treat our enemies—with non-violence, forgiveness, and mercy. The liturgy gives us a companion First Reading. The choice: a scene from the First Book of Samuel starring the future King David. We see David sparing his enemy, King Saul.
But the irony is that David, elsewhere in the Bible, is hardly a non-violent figure. He’s more typically a man of his era–meting out vengeance to enemies, inflicting violence on friends, and saddling his own people with the consequences of the king’s personal sin. Hardly a poster child for non-violence!
And yet perhaps this Biblical scene of forgiveness is more potent because of who David was. I’m reminded of the historic Camp David accords, in which President Jimmy Carter brought together Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat–two veterans of war, terrorism, and violence–in pursuit of peace. And even though their agreement was flawed, and the Middle East remains a violent place, some good did result.
Our world—the Middle East included—is as violent as David’s world–possibly more so–given our weapons technology and our terrible history of violence. Had King David heard Jesus’ message, how would he have responded? More importantly, how will we?