Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time, February 18, 2007

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

1 Corinthians 15: 45-49

Luke 6: 27-38

Non-violence and Forgiveness

The First Book of Samuel tells about how David, when hounded by Saul, preferred to take the offensive rather than flee. He entered the camp of the King and Abishai, who accompanied David, had in mind to avenge his master and nail Saul to the ground with his spear. But David refused to make an attempt on the life of the king, affirming that it was the Lord who would strike Saul in his own time. David took the spear and the water jar by Saul's head without anyones noticing it, for the Lord made a mysterious and providential sleep fall on Sauls entire camp. Having left the camp, David called out to Saul and, not wanting to keep a weapon in his power, gave him back the spear. He thus showed his will to refuse striking his rival by force of arms. He counted on the help of the Lord who would protect David from all guilt. In reality, David went into the camp to disarm Saul morally, that is to engage him in the logic of non-violence. And, in order for Saul to get the lesson, David presents himself unarmed and vulnerable. Isnt this supposed to be a lesson for the reader too?

And isnt it the same attitude of non-violence that Jesus preaches? Violence breeding violence, he asks us to break its chain reaction. In the face of injustice, moreover, is it enough not to react? Jesus words invite us to still greater radicalism and vulnerability. In order to love as the Father loves, we have to accept to bear the consequences of injustice and break with the logic that repays evil with evil. We are called to substitute the logic of the gift. Thats why, at the end of his exhortation, Jesus invites us to forgive. Forgiveness means giving up the right to exercise power. It is the only response that is not a reaction, but in a certain way, consents to letting God alone be the judge of human actions.

Then, as Paul exhorts us, let us be in the image of the one who comes from above, who died for us without reacting to the evil imposed by violence, among whose last words was the prayer, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Lk 23, 33). By living in solidarity with those who undergo the pain and evil of the cross, and with those who crucify him, Jesus, in the moment when he is the victim of the worst evil, shows us that the gentleness of the one who forgoes violence and forgives is not above the reach of humans.

— Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.