Homily Seventh Sunday of Year C: Fr. Udoekpo Michael Ufok
· 1 Sam 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23
· Ps 103:1-2,3-4,8,10,12-13
· 1 Cor 15:45-49
· Luke 6:27-38
ONLY MERCY AND MISERY REMAINED
Scripture readings today, together with that responsorial Psalms, “the Lord is kind and merciful,” reminds me of the 2016 Pastoral Letter, Misericordia et Misera (Mercy with Misery), issued by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on November 20 of that year, to mark the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. This letter draws from John 8:1-11, the story of Jesus’ mercy on the woman caught in adultery, by the Pharisees, and captures, Pope Francis’ understanding of the true mysterious nature of God. In that text of John 8 when the accusers of the woman left without the courage to stone her to death, only Jesus’ Mercy and the Misery of the woman remained!
This is who God is when we trace our salvation history, from nothingness to becoming a people, a nation. Part of this history is found in Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 85:1-3, Psalm 103:8-12, and in many other places in the Bible (cf. Mic 7:18-20), especially in today’s reading, that God’s love for us, sinners, our friends and enemies, family and nations, is a mystery. Mysterious, in that He loves and forgives us our sins, without boundaries and in spite of who we are. Of course, He expects us to do same to our neighbors, those we live with, those we work with, those we study with, those we trade, and worship with, those we play politics and democracy with, those we meet on the way, our fellow parishioner, prayer group and fellow members of our pious societies and youth groups.
In the story of today’s first reading, David and Abishai (were political people………), had the opportunity to kill his political opponent and enemy, Saul and his military commanders, but David was faithful and just. He was merciful. He would not harm God’s anointed. In this story David teaches us, as individual, family, village, town, and nation to be kind, patient, non-violent, merciful and charitable to one another, in our communities, allowing mercy and misery to remain!
St. Paul, a convert, a Pharisee Emeritus (Acts 9), does the same in the second reading (1 Corinthian 15:45-49). He invited the Corinthians then and us now, to imitate heavenly values. And Paul is aware of this, especially in 1 Corinthian 13, that no heavenly value is more prizing than love, mercy, charity; patience and forgiveness of those that may have wrong us! Allowing mercy and misery to remain!
As reported by St. Paul’s Companion, Luke in today’s Gospel, imitating God’s nature is all that Jesus taught his disciples; treating people well, “turning the other cheek”, forgiveness,, giving generously, doing to others what we would like done to us, being merciful as our heavenly father is ( Luke 6:27-38), eating with the so called ‘sinners and tax collectors” (Matt 9:9-13). Allowing mercy misery to remain and as a church reaching out to the margins as recommended by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
This may sound very challenging in our today’s world of economy, religion and politics. But, I tell you it could be done, forgiveness and being merciful, loving and charitable to our neighbors is possible. David and Abishai did it why not us? Paul did it why not us? Christ did it why not us? Remember Maximilian Kolbe, why not us. Remember John Paul II (forgiving his would be assassin) why not us?
We pray at this worship that in our various locations in life we may always remember to treat one another with love, kindness, and mercy, even in the face of misery!
· In what way can we relate to today’s readings?
· How often do we remember to extend God’s mercy, love and kindness to our neighbors?
· Any way we can recall few times we have failed to be merciful, kind, loving, and forgiving and why?