Essential Virtues And Elements Of Our Christian life
Readings: 1st: 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-23; Ps 103; 2nd: I Cor 15:45-49; Gos: Lk 6:27-38
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On this seventh Sunday, the Church reminds us of the essential virtues and elements of our Christian life. They include mercy and compassion, love of God and neighbor, self-control, appreciation of values, moral responsibility, awareness of sin, and the sacred sense. These are marks of our spiritual progress and Christian growth. Also, they form part of the church’s social doctrine.
Today’s first reading is dramatic. David had the death warrant of his enemies in his hands, yet he refused to pronounce it. Instead, he left it for God to pronounce in his way and at his appropriate time. He heeded God’s word: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge. Vengeance is mine” (Rom 12: 17-19; Deut 32:35).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gave a very important sermon on these essential virtues and elements that must guide our lives and actions as Christians. It is a new commandment because it overrules the Old Testament law of reprisal attack or retributive justice. There is no doubt that humanly speaking, it is a very difficult one. However, it demands a lot of sacrifice and courage.
So, how do we reconcile our constant quest for justice with the virtues of mercy and compassion? Is there any common ground between them? This is especially, in our world, where we constantly speak of mercy and at the same time advocate for the strictest sense of justice. That is the maximum punishment (even the death penalty) for our offenders.
The second-weekday preface of the Eucharistic (II) prayer gives us a clue to this problem. It says, “Injustice, God condemned us. In mercy, he redeemed us.” Yes, it is what it is. Indeed, contrary to what our society has programmed us to believe, justice and mercy are not mutually exclusive.
Hurts and wounds do not heal so fast. In some cases, their scars do not disappear entirely during one’s lifetime. However, Christ knew this perfectly well. He not only preached this sermon, but he also lived it. So, he is not asking us to do what he did not do.
Paul reminds us in our second reading that we derived our body and way of life from the earthly man (Adam). In contrast, we derived the spirit that gives life and animates our body from the heavenly man (Christ).
Hence, the spirit guides those who have received Christ. They are born of the Spirit. Christ’s new commandment may seem complicated, his spirit and grace will enable us to live these essential virtues and elements of our Christian life.
There are some lessons for us from today’s readings. First, we must learn to leave vengeance for God. So, we must not take every opportunity for revenge against our offenders. Forgiveness heals all wounds and wipes all scars away.
Second, we must not always bow to pressures from circumstances or our colleagues to do evil. This is because two wrongs can never make one right. Reprisal attack or revenge may hurt one even more than it will hurt one’s offender. In this case, we may win the war but not the peace, love, and friendship.
Finally, no matter our situation or circumstance, we must not lose the sense of the sacred. We must guard against sin. All lives belong to God, and only he has the right to take them away. Also, let us remember that we cannot help God in his judgment. He knows what to do, how to do it, and the best time to do it. So, we must let God be God “Lord is merciful and kind.”
Peace be with you!