Pray for Those Who Mistreat You

02-15-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Tony Okolo

The first reading presents us with the story of Saul who seeks David to kill him because David’s fame has grown more than his. David’s popularity created so much anger, bitterness and jealousy inside Saul that he was after David’s life. Questions that may demand our individual responses are: Does the progress, achievement, or success of other people create bitterness and jealousy in me? What is my response to friends, relations and colleagues who have got more than I have? How do I handle jealousy when I see it making an entrance inside?

Saul and his men went to the camp to look for David, and as things turned out, David and his men found Saul sleeping and David’s men wanted to slay Saul since God had delivered him into their hands. David had every reason to slay Saul, after all Saul was in the camp to kill David, but instead restrained him because according to him, “for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished.” The action of David calls us to reflect on our own attitude to people who are out to destroy us out of hatred or bitterness. David’s action teaches us to restrain from revenge of any hurt or injuries done to us. The example of David also brings to mind that God is always on the side of those who pay hatred with love. We equally learn from David’s action to leave judgment to God.

It would have been easy for David to kill Saul since he had been delivered into his hands, but he prefers to allow God to be the judge. It is also a sign of faith in the final judgment of God. Today’s gospel continues with the same theme of love for enemies and those who hate us. This particular teaching in today’s Gospel is one that makes Jesus stand out among many other moral teachers and religious leaders of the world. No other religious leader has been firm and emphatic in teaching about love for one’s enemies than those who do us wrong like Jesus. This teaching is in a radical opposition to the people of Jesus’ time. The Hebrew law has laid down stipulation for retribution of any injury done to another person, and these laws have been with the people for years, but Jesus comes with a new teaching that says exactly the opposite of what the people are used to. This teaching irrespective of it’s difficulty in practical terms, is very clear and unambiguous. Jesus was very clear in His statement when He says in a very clear language, “To you, who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” We all know how difficult this teaching can be, but Jesus maintains His position that it is through the practice of this gospel injunction we can truly become His true witnesses in the world. It is our decision to live by these teachings, can our witnesses as followers of Christ be demonstrated? The gospel reading invites us to reflect deeply on those we harbor resentment for in our hearts.

Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel is most needed in our society today where there is a lot of anger, bitterness, and character assassination because of political affiliations, policies and racial issues. As followers of Jesus, we are called to take a step back and get rid of any kind of resentment, unforgiving injuries, hurt and hate we may harbor against anyone. In another angle, we are equally called to find a way to avoid being carried away by jealousy. Wishing you all a Blessed Sunday and God’s love in your families.

Fr. Tony Okolo