Life, sometimes, is a series of “good news-bad news” situation like the Beatitudes preached by Jesus during His sermon on the plain last week: the blessings are the good news while the woes are the bad news.
But, wait…! Such a view is the way of the world, not of Christ’s disciples!
As we have reflected last Sunday, the Beatitudes are the paradoxical happiness of the disciples of Christ because they all run directly against the ways of the world. Today we hear more paradoxical teachings from Jesus that are actually His “win-win” solution for our many problems like wars and other forms of enmities. Unfortunately, we have never given them a try because we always complain the ways of the Lord as being far from realities of life, impossible to imitate because He is God and we are not.
Today let us set aside all these reservations and arguments to reflect on this new set of paradoxical teachings by the Lord: Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies.od to those who hate you, bless those who curse, pray for those who mistreat you… But rather, love your enemies and do good to them. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured out to you” (Lk.6:27-28, 35, 36, 38).
It is very striking that Jesus repeated twice His call to “love your enemies”.
Does He not care about us who have to bear with the sins of evil people? What a good news to those who hate us, curse us, and mistreat us! Suwerte sila! We would surely say they must be so lucky, even blessed with us who strive to heed the calls of Jesus to love them our enemies.
But, on deeper reflections, we are actually more blessed when we try to love our enemies because that is when we elevate – or “level up” as kids would say – our hearts to be merciful like God. Experts claim that the best way to exact revenge against people who have hurt us is to shower them with good deeds and kindness from us they have offended. According to these experts in counselling and psychology, evil people get disappointed and angrier with themselves when their evil plots fail especially when their targets do not react negatively. They sound understandable because evil people derive joy in making people miserable. So, why be miserable?
Far from being their “punching bag”, the Lord simply wants us to teach our enemies to respect us, to be kind to us by not being like themselves. In loving our enemies, we teach evil people that more powerful than sin is the power of love. Sin and evil consume a person while love and kindness make a person grow and mature and bloom to fullness.
Far from being passive, to love our enemies by returning evil with good is always the most active method in fighting sins. When Jesus asked us to offer the other side of our cheeks to those who slap our face or when we give them our tunic when they demand our cloak, we are showing these evil people that love is never exhausted unlike evil. Love is boundless and the more we love, the more we have it, the more we keep on doing it. Evil, on the other hand, reaches a saturation point that we get fed up with it, then we we stop doing it because it is exhausting and worst, consumes us within that in the
process destroys us. Think of the most evil person you have known and surely, you find that person so ugly, so zapped of life and energy, eaten up from within by a festering wound. Evil people will never have peace and joy within, glow on their face and skin because they are rotting inside like zombies.
In the first reading we heard how David as a type of Christ foregoing vengeance by holding on to God, trusting Him completely that he chose not to strike King Saul who was then trying to kill him out of jealousy. As disciples of the Lord, we have to trust in the Word of God that can transform our hearts of stone into natural hearts filled with love and mercy like Him. This is the point being explained by St. Paul in the second reading wherein Christ as the “second Adam from heaven” had made us bear the “heavenly image”despite our “earthly image” that is weak and sinful having come from the “first Adam from earth”. Through Baptism, we have been endowed with all the necessary grace from God, transforming us into better persons of heaven.
One of my favorite sayings came from the desk of a friend of mine I used to visit in their office that says “If you have love in your heart, you have been blessed by God; if you have been loved, you have been touched by God.”
See how God has loved us so immensely without measure! Remember that scene two Sundays ago when Jesus borrowed the boat of Simon as He would do with our voice, with our hands, with our total selves? Who are we or what do we really have and own that the almighty God would borrow from us? Nothing! Yet, Jesus comes to us daily with all His love without measure to bless us with everything we need. So, who are we now to love by measuring everything, loving only those who love us, lending only to those who could repay us?
Imagine how astonishingly disproportionate is the love of God with our kind of love. It is in this light must we see the meaning of Christ’s final lesson this Sunday: “For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured out to you.” So paradoxical and provocative yet so true! This Sunday, may we share God’s love in our hearts with others, especially with our enemies so they may also experience the loving and merciful touch of God. Then we begin to realize too the “win-win” solution of Christ to humanity. Amen.Have a blessed week!Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 17 February 2019
Every year when Valentine’s comes, I only think of one song: Dennis Lambert’s “Of All the Things”. It is probably the ultimate love song of all time especially for us die-hard romantic Filipinos that even Sr. Bubbles Bandojo, rc covered it for a Jesuit CD of popular songs often sung in weddings in the country. No wonder, Dennis Lambert gained a cult following in the country for that song he released in 1972 from the album “Bags and Things”.
Another cut from that great album is “Ashes to Ashes” which I find as a perfect match for our gospel this Sunday about the Beatitudes preached by Jesus Christ during His sermon on the plain based on St. Luke’s gospel. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us true blessedness and happiness in following Him is being poor, hungry, weeping, and hated by others. They are paradoxical because they run directly against the values of the world and yet, we know deep in our hearts how they are very true! Life is not about having and amassing but giving and sharing. Dennis Lambert reminds us that in the end, we are all “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” And there lies the great paradox in this life that Jesus has always reminded us, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it” (Lk.17:33). The saints who have followed the Lord knew it so well and lived it through as well as poets, writers and musicians like Lambert wrote about it too. A blessed Sunday to you!