Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
“Nice guys finish last” is a thought attributed to Leo Durocher, the baseball player and coach who was known for his boorish behavior. He obviously equated “nice” with “stupid,” in which he unknowingly reverted to what is the original meaning of the word. It comes in fact from the Old French word “nice” meaning “silly.” The word went through various meanings for many years, but it was only in the 18th century that the word began to take on its modern sense of “agreeable,” “pleasing,” or “kind and considerate of others.” Sadly, proponents of present day secular religion void of Christ hold that all you are asked to be in life is a “nice” person to attain heaven. Certainly not Catholic Christianity.
Contrast that with what we just heard from Jesus in St. Luke’s gospel selection, and one can easily conclude that Jesus did not always say “nice things,” Nor did He ask for a bland courtesy as the way to heaven.
What then is our response to be? For sure it is not to think that Luke chapter 6 doesn’t exist, or that it was meant for people long dead. Nor are we to take “an ostrich approach” to following Jesus only when and where He speaks sweetly. We have to have His forgiving attitude toward those who have hurt us. Sad to hear a penitent say in the confessional something like “I can’t forgive “so and so,” (often a blood relative) for what they did 10, 20 or more years ago.” There are consequences for such decisions and deeds. None of them are pretty, which the Bible describes in detail.
There is one alleviating factor in many instances. It may be that a person who says such things actually means that he or she cannot forget the hurt. There’s a big difference here. Remember that Christ never said “Forget the hurt.” Often it is like a permanent scar on our memories of the past, both easily recalled and remembered in detail. Impossible to forget. What we do about that memory makes all the difference. It has to be a decision of our will to forgive the offending person once and for all. Not that this is easy, but it is certainly what Out Lord has in mind. It feels very much like a cross. But didn’t Our Lord also say that we are to carry one of those if we truly want to be His true follower.
Today we receive in the First Reading a memorable pre-Christian example in the behavior of young King David acting as he did in the tent of the sleeping Saul, who wanted nothing better than David’s death. And dare we forget those words of the dying Jesus hanging on that Roman cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”?
Remember how Prospero, when finally given a chance to punish those who had removed him of his rightful place as king, said this: “Let us not burden our remembrance with a heaviness that’s gone.” (William Shakespeare, The Tempest).
God love you, and give you His peace.
Reading I: I Samuel 26: 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23: David refuses to harm the sleeping Saul, which bespeaks of David’s justification and underlines Saul’s evil.
Reading II: I Corinthians 15: 45-49: St. Paul presents Christ as the new and last Adam. He became Lord of all through His resurrection. In this way, He became a giver of life with the old Adam as its receiver.
The Gospel: Luke 6:27-38: “The Sermon on the Plain” continues. Jesus teaches would-be disciples how to respond to hurts and indeed persecution. He rejects the natural human tendency to place self-protection first. Thus does He offer a radical idea to all.