This Sunday, the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, the scripture readings call upon us to consider the roles of spiritual maturity, self control, and compassion in the life of a disciple and more particularly in our own lives. In the Gospel, Jesus lays out some of the most challenging of His teachings. In the second reading, Paul tells us that the reason for our compassion and the source of our power to be compassionate stem from our being remade into the image of Christ from Whom the power to lead the Christian life comes in the first place.
First Reading: 1 Samuel 26: 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
2 So Saul went off down to the desert of Ziph with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph. [3 Saul camped beside the road on the hill of Hachilah, at the edge of the wasteland. David, who was living in the desert, saw that Saul had come into the desert after him 4 and sent out scouts, who confirmed Saul’s arrival. 5 David himself then went to the place where Saul was encamped and examined the spot where Saul and Abner, son of Ner, the general, had their sleeping quarters. Saul’s were within the barricade, and all his soldiers were camped around him. 6 David asked Ahimelech the Hittite, and Abishai, son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?” Abishai replied, “I will.”] 7 So David and Abishai 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 and his men sleeping around him. 8 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!” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the LORD’S anointed and remain unpunished? [10 As the LORD lives,” David continued, “it must be the LORD himself who will strike him, whether the time comes for him to die, or he goes out and perishes in battle. 11 But the LORD forbid that I touch his anointed! Now take the spear which is at his head and the water jug, and let us be on our way.” ] 12 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. 13 Going across to an opposite slope, David stood on a remote hilltop at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner, and the troops. [14 He then shouted, “Will you not answer, Abner?” And Abner answered, “Who is it that calls me?” 15 David said to Abner: “Are you not a man whose like does not exist in Israel? Why, then, have you not guarded your lord the king when one of his subjects went to kill the king, your lord? 16 This is no creditable service you have performed. As the LORD lives, you people deserve death because you have not guarded your lord, the LORD’S anointed. Go, look: where are the king’s spear and the water jug that was at his head?” 17 Saul recognized David’s voice and asked, “Is that your voice, my son David?” David answered, “Yes, my lord the king.” 18 He continued: “Why does my lord pursue his servant? What have I done? What evil do I plan?19 Please, now, let my lord the king listen to the words of his servant. If the LORD has incited you against me, let an offering appease him; but if men, may they be cursed before the LORD, because they have exiled me so that this day I have no share in the LORD’S inheritance, but am told: ‘Go serve other gods!’ 20 Do not let my blood flow to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea as if he were hunting partridge in the mountains.” 21 Then Saul said: “I have done wrong. Come back, my son David, I will not harm you again, because you have held my life precious today. Indeed, I have been a fool and have made a serious mistake.”] 22 But David answered: “Here is the king’s spear. Let an attendant come over to get it. 23 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.
NOTES on First Reading:
* 26:2 David’s band was about 600 men at this time. The real concern of this chapter is not reconciliation between Saul and David so much as it is justification of David.
* The parts of the text in brackets, [like this], are left out of the reading.
* 26:19 The Lord’s inheritance is the land of Israel (Deut 32:8-9) under the Lord’s special protection, where he could be freely worshiped.
* 26:25 These are the last recorded words to pass between Saul and David.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 45-49
45 So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. 46 But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. 48 As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 15:45 Paul introduces the analogy of the first man, Adam, by a citation from Genesis 2:7. Paul modifies the text slightly by adding the adjective first and translating the Hebrew Adam twice. He gives it its value both as a common noun (man) and as a proper name (Adam). The second part of the verse then specifies similarities and differences between the two Adams. Christ (See 1 Cor 15:21-22) has become a . . . spirit (pneuma), a life-principle transcendent with respect to the natural soul (psyche) of the first Adam. Because of the belief that the end would correspond to the beginning, Jewish theology granted Adam a role in the eschaton (end time ). Paul uses this idea by portraying Jesus as the “last” Adam who in contrast to the first Adam gave life instead of receiving it. Further, he is not just alive, but life-giving, a source of life for others.
* 15:46 Paul reverses the order used by the philosophers especially Philo by placing the earthly first.
* 15:47 Paul rewords his position in the terms used by Philo.
* 15:48-49 These verses restate vs 21-22 but from the perspective of Adam and Christ both representing a possibility of human existence. Both possibilities are real since we all are as Adam was and can become as Christ is.
* 15:49 Although it has less manuscript support, the reading, “We shall also bear the image”, better fits the context’s emphasis on futurity and the transforming action of God than does the majority reading, “let us bear the image.” The majority reading suggests that the image of the heavenly man is already present and exhorts us to conform to it. See Romans 8:29; and Phil 3:21 on future transformation as conformity to the image of the Son.
Gospel Reading: Luke 6: 27-38
27 “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34 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. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. 37 “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. 38 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.”
NOTES on Gospel:
* 6:27a Luke’s message is addressed to would-be disciples.
* 6:27b-29 The message of verse 22 (Luke’s Fourth Beatitude) is spelled out in more detail by addressing how the members of the community should respond to persecution. The love of enemies that is suggested is a radical idea for that time. Even today it is an exceptional mode of behavior.
* 6:29 The pattern of behavior given here is anti-intuitive. It is opposite of the normal human tendency toward self-defense. Love of enemies is a frequent Lucan theme. See 9:51-56;10:25-37;17:11-17; Acts 8:4-25.
* 6:30 Luke has taken Matt 5:42 and radicalized it. Matthew says “Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Luke says “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.” Luke has universalized the rule by adding “everyone” and he does not allow disciples to ask for their possessions back.
*6:31 This is Luke’s version of the “Golden Rule”.
* 6:32-35a In these verses Luke interprets the “Golden Rule” of the previous verse. He does it in such a way that it can not be misunderstood in terms of the reciprocity mind-set of the time. In those days reciprocity would require that I do good to someone who had done good to me. Luke wants to go beyond that type of thinking. For Luke doing good meant to do good for someone from whom I had received nothing or received only evil and from whom I expect to receive nothing in return. He even interprets this rule to the point of doing good for enemies.
* 6:37 Luke has used the Greek word,”apolyein”, which has an economic force to it. The idea is not so much forgiveness as pardon of debt.
* 6:38 The image of one’s lap not being able to contain the goodies that God showers down on us is a good picture of God’s superabundant generosity that we are called to mirror. God will measure to us with the same measure that we use to measure out to others. Are we careful givers who seek to be generous but not too generous or are we prodigals who lavish our generosity with reckless abandon as God does? </FONT
Scripture text: New American Bible with revised New Testament copyright © 1986,1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
Vince Del Greco
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990) (Eds. Brown, Fitzmyer & Murphy)