SR-2019-02-24

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C) – February 24, 2019



7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: How God Wants Us to Live as His Disciple.

The background to Reading 1 is that God commanded the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul as the King of Israel. Saul then proceeded to break God’s covenant in the way in which he carried out his kingship and he also decided to kill David as he saw him as a competitor. Today’s reading then tells us that David had the opportunity to defend himself by killing Saul but instead he respected the fact that it was God’s command that Saul be anointed king and he would not violate this commandment. A prominent theme in this reading is David’s learning to trust God to repay his enemies rather than taking vengeance himself.

The Gospel reading basically restates Reading 1 by putting us in the role of David and our neighbors in the role of Saul.

Reading 2 helps us carry out David’s role by comparing our humanly earthly and spiritual aspects. David turned from retaliation (an earthly aspect) to obedience to God (a spiritual aspect). This is an example of how we are to live our lives as disciples of God.

“His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness.” (Charles Stanley)


Reading 1 – 1 Samuel 26:2,7-9, 12-13, 22-23     David does not kill Saul.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13    A song in praise of God’s mercy.

Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 15:45-49     As we bear the image of Adam, so we will bear the image of the One from heaven.

Gospel – Luke 6:27-38     Jesus teaches His disciples to be merciful as God is merciful.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     1 Samuel 26:2,7-9, 12-13, 22-23                              (David Spares Saul)            

Context – God writes lessons for us not only in words but also by events. Among these events, one of the most prominent is the dependence of a nation’s happiness on its leaders’ personal holiness. First and Second Samuel contrasts the personalities and events in the lives of the early Israeli leaders – Eli, Samuel, Saul, and David.

Today’s Reading – This story is filled with human intrigue and divine mystery. It contrasts the respect David had for God’s anointed with the murderous intent of Saul. Although David was the one being hunted, Saul was the one caught.


In those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph [i] with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph. So David and Abishai [ii] went among Saul’s soldiers by night and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade, with his spear thrust into the ground at his head and Abner [iii] and his men sleeping around him.

Abishai whispered to David: “God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!”
But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed [iv] and remain unpunished?” [v] So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul’s head, and they got away without anyone’s seeing or knowing or awakening. All remained asleep, because the LORD had put them into a deep slumber.

Going across to an opposite slope [vi], David stood on a remote hilltop at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner [vii], and the troops. He said: “Here is the king’s spear. Let an attendant come over to get it. The LORD will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness. Today, though the LORD delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the LORD’s anointed.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         The book of 1 Samuel is a combination of two versions called the Early Source and the Late Source (2 Samuel was written from the Early Source). Our reading today is from the Late Source. And a second version of the same story as today’s reading, occurs at 1 Samuel 23:14 – 24:22 from the Early Source. Both versions have the same message for us even though they have different details. It all goes back to the saying “Everything in the Bible is true and some of it actually happened as described.” (Marcus Borg – Anglican Theologian).


Responsorial Psalm –     Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13                   (The Lord’s Mercy)

This psalm reminds us that it is the Lord’s prior forgiveness toward us that is the origin of our own capacity to forgive others.


R. – The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless
[viii] the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.
R. – The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. – The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger
[ix] and abounding in kindness. Not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.
R. – The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
[x]
R. – The Lord is kind and merciful.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Reading 2     1 Corinthians 15:45-49                       (Grace Builds on Nature)                

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after the establishment of this Church, trouble arose including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. Paul’s pastoral guidance was needed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from falling prey to false prophets.    

Today’s Reading – In these verses Paul contrasts the ordinary human body with the resurrected body that believers will receive. He begins by making a clear distinction between the first man, Adam and the last Adam, Christ. Adam’s body was made from the earth; Christ’s body was created in heaven. Then Paul says that just as humankind shares in the limitations of the first Adam, limitations that eventually lead to death, believers in Christ will share in Christ’s victory over death, a victory that includes the promise of the resurrected life of the “spiritual body”. Key words here are – “believers in Christ” – will receive the resurrection.


Brothers and sisters: It is written, The first man, Adam, became a living being [xi], the last Adam a life-giving spirit [xii]. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the Second Man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the Heavenly One, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly One.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     Luke 6:27-38                     (Love for Enemies)

Context – Luke was a physician and a follower of Paul. His Gospel was written in 59-61 AD and he also wrote the Book of Acts. Luke’s gospel includes Jesus words and works in Galilee, His journey to Jerusalem, and His last week in Jerusalem. For later chapters of Luke: Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His passion; He has made His triumphal entry which we celebrate on Passion (Palm) Sunday; He has upset the establishment by cleansing the temple. The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees are all now interested in getting rid of Him. He identifies three epochs of salvation history: the time before Christ, the time of Christ, and the time of the Church and the Holy Spirit. And the two primary themes of his Gospel are: the Christian faith is expressed in one’s actions, and the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles. The emblem for St. Luke was given the symbol of an ox (a sacrificial animal) because he speaks of Christ most of all as the Great High Priest who brought Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”). St. Luke died a martyr’s death in Achaia (Greece).

Today’s Reading – These words from Jesus’ teaching are familiar to us. They constitute the crux and the challenge of what it means to be a disciple: Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, give to those who ask, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, lend without expecting repayment, judge not lest you be judged.


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. [xiii] 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 [xiv], 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.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Catechism 2842 – This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.  Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.


[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
“Ziph” = Ziph was a city in the Judean Mountains south-east of Hebron (19 miles south of Jerusalem). Here David hid himself from Saul.
[ii] “Abishai” = David’s nephew.
[iii] “Abner” = Commander of Saul’s army.
[iv]  “the Lord’s anointed” = Samuel the Prophet was told by God to anoint Saul as the King of Israel. Saul was then referred to as “the Lord’s anointed” or simply the “anointed one”.
[v] “remain unpunished” = Even though Saul is trying to kill him, David reveres the “Lord’s anointed” and his position as king.
[vi] “Going across to an opposite slope” and calling out to Abner = Even today, the Arabs in the wilder parts of the country shout across great distances in this same manner, as David did.
[vii] “Ner” = Saul’s uncle.
[viii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“Bless” = Praise, glorify.
[ix] “slow to anger” = God is patient with us. God’s anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.
[x]   “those who fear Him” = How to fear the Lord: Psalm 34 states, to fear the Lord – “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit, depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it”. Also: Learn about Him, Worship Him (devotion); Seek His will in all matters and act upon it (service); Be obedient to Him in both good and bad times; Love Him, trust Him, and give Him thanks; Tell others about Him; Hate evil.
[xi] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“It is written, The first man, Adam, became a living being.“ = This is a reference to Genesis 2:7 where God formed Adam from the earth and breathed life into him. He became the physical (earthly) body which we all resemble today.
[xii] “the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” = This is Jesus Christ who has a living spirit, a life-giving spirit which raises up those who desire to live.
[xiii] Gospel Footnotes:
“Do to others as you would have then do to you.” = The “Golden Rule” is a sure test to distinguish virtue from vice. Jesus provides the supreme example of living this out and expects the same from His disciples.
[xiv] “Be merciful.” = Mercy is the towering rule of Christ’s Kingdom.