Love your Enemies

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, St. Louis-Marie De Montfort’s Pastoral Area, Arab Road, Kubwa. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama. February 20, 2022

Readings: 1 Sam. 26: 2, 7-9, 11-13, 22-23; 102(103): 1-4, 8, 10, 12-13; 1 Cor. 15: 45-49; Lk. 6: 27-38

Theme: “Love your Enemies”

The first reading today contains the story of how Saul went after David to kill him, driven by envy, and the charitable reaction of David when he had the opportunity to kill Saul. David, a national hero and a beloved son of Israel who won them victory against the Philistines, suddenly became the king’s number one threat. Saul was out to kill him, simply because David became famous and was held in high esteem. David had to run away to the mountains, while Saul went in pursuit of him with three thousand chosen men of Israel. When Saul and his men fell asleep, David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he refrained from doing so, believing that vengeance belongs to God (cf. Deut 32:35; Rom 12: 17-19).

Part of the reason why Saul wanted to kill David was Saul’s desire to enthrone one of his sons as king after his reign (see what the uncontrolled propensity to political favouritism for power can do). The fact was that Saul knew that none of his sons possessed the qualities of David, yet, Saul was bent on giving the throne to one of them (Jonathan), and so, saw David as an obstacle to be eliminated.

By refusing to kill his enemy, David who became the greatest of the kings of Israel is presented as a figure to help us understand the person of Jesus. He refused to harm Saul because as king, Saul was God’s anointed (the sanctity of life). David truly proved himself “a man after God’s own heart”; for he loved his enemy up to the extent of sparing his life. David teaches us that loving our enemies and those who hate us is sometimes the best form of revenge and the way to find inner peace with ourselves, not doing to them the evil they would want done to us.

Today, we must regain the values of forgiveness and dialogue which seem to have lost popular appeal. Remember that to forgive is not an act of weakness but strength. We need this virtue to overcome in our country the brewing political tensions and unprovoked attacks.

As you delegates of the National Executive of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON) gathered for your 96th National Executive Council Meeting/Seminar with the theme, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk. 1:39), return home, I urge you to be more involved as positive key drivers of the Church and civil society.

I commend your great enthusiasm and the use of your different gifts and talents to work for God. Please, continue to make yourselves available for voluntary service in the Church and society, despite the numerous challenges of unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and the epileptic educational system that makes you sometimes graduate in seven years instead of four.

Dear young people, this is the time when leaders pursuing their selfish political interests use young people negatively. Don’t allow yourselves to be used even in the midst of social lack. Participate actively and honestly in politics and perform your civic responsibility with great courage and conviction in the spirit of patriotism, with the hope that the conscience of political leaders will be touched and they will be able to sacrifice their comfort, and temper their greed with mercy, to provide for you and your future. Keep the light of faith aglow and don’t relent in praying and working for peace and progress.

Jesus calls you to reject any recourse to violence, because violence dehumanizes us, especially when we hunt, maim, capture and kill fellow human beings. The call to love our enemies is not a call to passivity in the face of wrongs and evils, but it is the most eloquent moral response that can be given. Two wrongs never make one right. Reprisal attacks or revenge may hurt one even more than it will hurt one’s offender.

While it is quite difficult, to love those who hate us and to pray for those who persecute us, St. Paul reminds us in our second reading that those who have received Christ are guided by His Spirit to live these essential virtues and elements of our Christian life, to become instruments of peace as St. Francis of Assisi prayed.

Warm greetings to you my dear youths, and the parishioners of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s Pastoral Area, Arab Road, Kubwa, led by the Priest in Charge, Rev. Fr. Maurice Ugema. As you youth delegates return to your various dioceses, let us pray for your safe return. May Mary our mother continue to intercede for your spiritual, material and special needs. Remember that as we pray in the “Our Father”, that God should forgive us, we, too, should be ready to forgive and to refrain from inflicting any form of cruelty on others.

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