Forgive and You Will Be Forgiven (Luke 6:37)

by Edmond Lo
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

1 Corinthians 15:45-49

Luke 6:27-38

Hard to believe, but I have conducted the Bible Study Program (BSP) at the Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church for more than sixteen years. I count each year as a wonderful blessing to me personally as the program navigator and to those who join the ministry as facilitators, partici-pants, and volunteers, each in our own different ways. Not only does the BSP help all of us to stay in touch with the Sacred Scripture on a regular basis, it also enables us to continue to grow spiritually and build our lives on the foundation of the Word of God – a Word that is “before all things” and “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).

This Sunday’s gospel reminds me of a BSP participant who must have asked me at least five or six times over the course of the program why Jesus asks us to “love your enemies and do good to them” (Lk 6:35). Obviously, I haven’t been very successful in giving her a convincing answer, otherwise she wouldn’t have asked the same question over and over again. But ever an opti-mist, I don’t see her lingering doubt as a failure of mine. Rather, I see the issue underlying her doubt as one of the most difficult requirements of Christianity; one that very few people have been able to come to grips with. For the precious few who have, they couldn’t have succeeded without a heart thoroughly ignited by the Holy Spirit, and a mind fully determined to embrace the love of God unreservedly. In this Sunday’s first reading, we come face to face with such a person – David.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name” (Ps. 103:1). David’s unre-served love for God is evident in this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm. “Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes” (Ps. 103:8, 10). Keenly aware of his own sins, David, who has experienced time and time again God’s mercy, knows that he is in no position to claim righteousness and condemn his enemies before God. Saul in his wickedness may have be-trayed and persecuted David many times; he may have given David more than enough reasons for rebellion and vengeance. But David knows that God who is merciful to him also expects him to be merciful to other people, especially to Saul whom being the Lord’s anointed David must not harm (c.f. 1 Sm 26:23).

“Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6:36-37). Not sure if my 16-year BSP friend would be able to read this article. If I haven’t been able to con-vince her to forgive her enemies after so many years, I don’t expect this brief reflection to be able to do the trick. But I remain hopeful – hopeful that as long as she continues to attend the BSP and build her life on the foundation of the word of God, the Lord would eventually be able to win over her heart and turn it from a heart of judgement and condemnation to a heart of mercy and forgiveness. Amen.