This weekend's reading is about christian love. Do we make choices out of love? We read about David in the first reading from the first book of Samuel, his love and respect for God’s authority. Israelites looked at the neighboring kingdoms and wished for a King. They asked Samuel, the last judge to ask God for a King. Saul was their first King. Young David took the defeated Goliath and gained the admiration of the people and jealousy of King Saul. Saul and his “three thousand picked men” went to kill David. On the other hand David, with Abishai, entered Saul's camp while they were asleep. God put Saul in deep sleep. We read different times God put different people to sleep for different reasons, especially for the new covenant. God put Adam to sleep (Genesis 2:21); Abram fell into deep sleep and God established a new covenant (Genesis 15:12). Even though Saul was in deep sleep, David refused Abishai’s offer to kill Saul. David had a great love and respect for God. David didn’t want to kill Saul because God anointed him as King. At the same time by taking Saul’s spear and jug, he made sure Saul knew David entered his camp. David is an image of Christ and a great example for loving and forgiving his enemy. David’s love for God led him to make the right choice.
In the Gospel we see Jesus, from the house of David, teaching to love enemies. This passage is a continuation of last Sunday's Sermon of the Pain. Last Sunday we reflected on beatitudes in which Jesus gave us perfection of following the Ten Commandments. There are different words for love in Greek. Philia is affectionate love or friendship. Eros is passionate desire, and agape is unconditional love. Do things out of love without expecting any reward. When Jesus taught to love your enemies, he meant agape: unconditional love. Agape is the love that cares deeply for others simply because they are created in the image and likeness of God. He not only taught us to love our enemies, but he gave us a great example on the Cross. While hanging on the Cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
In the Old Testament we see retaliation: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:24); “Anyone who inflicts a permanent injury on his or her neighbor shall receive the same in return” (Leviticus 24:19): “Do not show pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!” (Deuteronomy 19:21). Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek” (Mark 6:28-29), Jesus asks us to show unconditional love.
In the second reading from the first Corinthians, St. Paul tells us that we are born like the first man, Adam, inclined to disobey God. But when Jesus died and rose from the dead, he sent us his life giving spirit. So even now we bear his heavenly image because of our baptism. Through baptism Christ lives in us. While we are here on earth, we may not be able to completely let go of the earthly man, but God’s grace is there for us through our baptism and other Sacraments.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that love consists in two desires: one, a desire for the good, for the beloved person, and two, a desire for union with that person. Jesus says, “love your enemies” means to come in union with others. Let us grow in love for God and for others.