Year C: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: 1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23
As soon as we see a Scripture reference as complicated as the one for todayís reading, we realise that what we are getting in the liturgy are edited highlights. Try to find time to read the whole passage - simply to get an overview of the whole story.
Saul and David had a very uneasy relationship and it was often only Davidís friendship with Saul's son Jonathon that had kept David alive. The two are now engaged in an ongoing war and this is, in fact, the second time that David has had chance to kill Saul and refused to do so... though making sure, of course, that Saul realises how close he was to death!
This consistent refusal to kill the king who has so often sought his own death makes David an admirable example of the qualities that Jesus describes in the Gospel. David has the chance to repay evil with evil - but chooses to repay it with good.
These qualities are not born of weakness but of strength. Davidís valour in war is beyond doubt - and goes beyond slaying the giant, Goliath with only a sling-shot. These deeds speak of someone of courage and stature - and it is those qualities which inform his decision-making. He acts from a position of strength - not of weakness; as someone renowned for his bravery but who was not afraid, either, to show compassion to his enemy.
This reading makes a very interesting companion to the Gospel - it shows us that, when acting in the manner described by Jesus in the Gospel, we are not acting in the manner of slaves We are, in fact, following the example of one of the greatest kings who ever lived.
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