Date: Sunday, February 24, 2019
David spares the life of King Saul. Saul, consumed by jealousy of David’s rising popularity, has driven David from court and pursues him in the Judean desert. Given the opportunity, David refuses to take revenge against his persecutor. David says: “I will not harm the Lord’s anointed.” It may appear at first glance that David’s action is rare, but a case can be made that humans are hardwire for compassion even with supposed enemies. In our 2nd reading, St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that we bear within the image of the “earthly one” and “the heavenly one.” The name “Adam” is a Hebrew word for “clay” or “earth.” The author of Genesis has a beautiful poetic description of God creating: “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) In the Bible the human person is both body and soul. Certainly, our earthly and heavenly selves can be at odds but “in Christ” God gathers all the fragments of our broken humanity and offers hope of a redeemed and restored future. Earth and heaven befriend each other. We return to the Garden of Eden.
Jesus preaches the “ethic” of the Kingdom or Reign of God. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” The teaching of Jesus is easily dismissed as against our human nature. But the teaching of Jesus must be received with awareness that the Reign of God is coming and there is urgency that our way of living must be transformed. Some have embraced the ethic of Kingdom living. Living with hatred and desire for revenge is dying! Forgiveness can release us from our earthly self to our true heavenly self in Christ. Our model is God! “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
On Wednesday we celebrated the funeral Mass for Deacon Jack Burke. He ministered as a chaplain at the Collins Correctional Facility. Jack worked in the prison for 20 years. At his funeral Mass there was an honor guard of correction officers. They wanted to pay their respect for a man who spent a good portion of his life with those who are incarcerated for wrong doing -- not condoning evil but for being a minister of God’s mercy and salvation. Deacon Jack Burke lived the teaching of Jesus. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. 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.”