New man, new way
- Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
(Lk6:27-38). Taken from today’s Sunday (7c) gospel.
- The second reading of this Sunday (1 Cor 15:45-49) talks of old Adam and new Adam. Old Adam is described as earthly, natural and living according to natural inclinations. His ways were old ways. The new Adam, Jesus is described as heavenly and spiritual with new way of life which he comes to teach through his incarnation, life and ministry. It is through him that we acquire the spiritual attitudes of the new man to complement the natural attitudes that we have taken from the old man. What new way does the new man teach us through the gospel today?
In today’s gospel Jesus teaches about ACTIVE LOVE for enemies. He listed a number of people that do us evil: those who hate you, curse you, maltreat you, take your property, borrow from you and refuse to pay back and those who are violent towards you. To all these people Jesus teaches that we should return good for their evil. We should not just tolerate them passively. We should rather actively show them love. Why should we do such a stupid thing? Jesus replies that we should because we are sons and daughters of a God who does not discriminate between the wicked and the righteous when he distributes his blessings. So, like father like son. Secondly, we are heaven bound, thus we shall be greatly rewarded for every good deed we accomplished on earth. Good deeds do not cancel bad deeds. So we should avoid paying back evil with evil because we intend to do other good deeds.
This is a new way coming from a new man. It is a teaching that the contemporaries of Jesus found very ridiculous. They were tutored on the law of Moses where vengeance is considered a rightful action and a means of deterring people from being wicked to others. The lex talonis, tit for tat was well known and practiced as a religious precept. For us today, this teaching does not go down well too. We live at a time when people enjoy exploiting the guilible and he who lives according to the new way will certainly be exploited.
Knowing our thoughts about this teaching, the Church picked the encounter between Saul and David as the first reading for today(1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23). David, a young galant soldier was being hunted by Saul the king of Israel. His offense was that he saved Israel from the hands of the Philistines by killing their warrior Goliath. Saul set out with three thousand elite soldiers to trap and kill the young man. Unfortunately, God sold them into his hands by making them fall deeply asleep in the cave where David was hiding. He come upon them but decided not to harm them. He left the vengeance for God. He knows that each person must reap what he/she has sown. Through this story we are simply taught that the teaching of the new man is not beyond the ability of any man who wants to live according to it.
ACTIVE LOVE for enemies is a difficult virtue. It could pass for the recourse of cowards but I have come to understand that only the strong can overlook the faults of others and truly forgive. Consciously doing good to those who do evil to you and others can only portray a deep confidence in God’s ability to punish and reward each person according to his/her deeds. You may have suffered injustice, persecution and wickedness from some people. Try to forgive them not because you are encouraging their wickedness or because you are a coward but rather because you want to be like your father in heaven. In doing this you are not being a weakling. You are showing yourself strong. You are setting yourself free from base passion of hatred to live out the higher passion of love for the yoke of hatred is heavier than the chain of love. Be a new Adam, follow the new Way.