This Sunday, February 24, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do go to those who would do us harm.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. These are difficult words. Sometimes they seem impossible. But our readings today offer us an example (besides Jesus) who was able to do that, and a reminder that we aren’t just human—we have the divine presence of God in us to help us do the difficult. David, the boy who would someday be king, was being hunted down by the current king, Saul. They were enemies. Saul would kill David if he caught him. God gave David an opportunity to kill Saul, but David didn’t because he acknowledged Saul as still being God’s chosen one (the chosen King of Israel).
Paul reinforces the theme by reminding us that we aren’t just flesh. We’re not animals functioning purely on instinct. We are made in God’s image and likeness with God’s spirit breathing within us. We always have access to the help we want or need to accomplish even the seemingly impossible things that God asks of us—like loving our enemies.
The Gospel tells us of a type of love that every Christian is called to—agape. Agape is the type of love that has nothing to do with feelings, and can even operate in opposition of our feelings. Fr. Michael Himes defined it as, “the effective willing of the good of another,” which means that we use our will to do good for another. It is the love we can have for our enemies even when we’re “not feeling it.” Why would Jesus want us to love our enemies? Because God does. Because God’s not done with them yet. Because God’s not done with us yet. Because when we choose love in the face of hatred, change is possible. And only love can drive out hate.
1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed and remain unpunished?”
The Lord is kind and merciful.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Do you find it difficult to be nice to people who are mean to you? Do you think it’s important to try?
If you were in David’s position, to be able to easily dispatch an enemy (and think broader than killing—it could be wounding with words, harming their reputation, making them dead to you), would you have taken it?
When you’re at your worst; your angriest or most hurt, would remembering that God’s breath breathes in you (and in the other) help you to choose your response more carefully, rather than reacting?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”