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Today the Sacred Scriptures provide lessons on how to deal with one’s enemies. Love them.
The first reading from 1 Samuel tells the story of King Saul who had relentlessly pursued David in order to slay him. When Saul, the Lord’s anointed king, was asleep in his camp, David and his men approached them quietly. When David’s attendants came next to the sleeping Saul they were about to take the spear by his head and thrust it through is chest, but David stopped them.
David took the king’s spear and went to the hill on the opposite side of Saul’s camp. David lifted up the spear and, waking them up, said to Saul and his men, “Today, though the LORD delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.”
Saul survived for another day because of David’s great mercy.
The Gospel picks up on the theme of being merciful to our enemies. Jesus said, “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.”
Now, let me be clear. Church teaching allows for self-defense. We have the right to defend ourselves against extreme aggression. However, to love is to seek the salvation of the other. We must do all we can to seek the salvation of those who do battle against us. We must do all in our power to save those who come at us.
Jesus is reminding us today that the most powerful weapon we have in the battle against hatred is love.
Sometimes it takes turning the other cheek, giving the cloak off our back, and not demanding a return of what has been taken from us to change the hearts of those who are set against us.
I am reminded of the story of Jean Valjean from the great story Les Miserables. Valjean had stolen some silverware from the bishop’s home. He is caught by the police and brought back to the bishop who says that the silverware were actually his gift to the man and then gave Jean Valjean two of his silver candlesticks. In the musical version, Valjean is released from police custody and the bishop says to him, “But remember this my brother, see in this some higher plan. You must use this precious silver to become a better man. By the witness of the martyrs, by the passion and the blood, God has raised you out of darkness. I have bought your soul for God.”
From that moment on Jean Valjean led a different life. Love changed a criminal into a godly man. He says to himself, “My life he claims for God above. Can such things be? For I had come to hate the world. This world that always hated me. Take an eye for an eye. . . . This is all I have lived for. This is all I have known. He told me I have a soul. How did he know? What spirit comes to move me… Another story must begin.”
Yes, to show love to ones enemies is difficult. It is not easily put into practice. But when we deflect hatred with love, we are only doing what God has already done for us. He loved us in our sinfulness, even sending his Son to die for us. May we use big measuring cups when doling out mercy to others. This is the same measuring cup we will take with us to heaven for God to use in giving his mercy to us.
Have a blessed week everyone.