Today’s Scripture readings challenge us to make three types of correct choices in life. First, we are advised to choose the love in the “golden rule” instead of selfishness and insensitivity to the feelings and needs of others. Second, we need to choose unconditional, agape love instead of jealousy and hatred in our relationships with others. Third, we must choose graceful forgiveness instead of harbouring revenge and planning retaliation.
The first reading shows us how David made the right choice, respecting God’s anointed king by forgiving his offenses, while Saul continued to make the wrong choices, perpetuating his own misery in seeking his revenge. In the Responsorial Psalm, Ps 103, the Psalmist reminds us of the mercy of God and His compassion which we should practice in our choices. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us how the “First Adam” made a wrong choice of disobedience, bringing death into the world, whereas Jesus, the “Second Adam,” made the right choice of fulfilling his Father’s saving plan for mankind by accepting acute suffering and heinous death.
Today’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ revolutionary moral teaching about correct choices in our human relationships, based on the necessity of our following the “Golden Rule” and our obligation to behave like the children of a loving, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate Heavenly Father. Our relationships in our communities become truly Christian when we follow the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Jesus amplifies the golden rule by giving additional commands for us to follow as God’s children, by explaining Christian love: “Love your enemies…Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” Jesus orders us to love our enemies and to be merciful and compassionate to everyone as God our Father is loving, merciful, and compassionate. He concludes by instructing us to stop judging others and start forgiving all who offend us.
We need to practice the Golden Rule: The Golden Rule asks us to do to others what we would like them to do to us. If we obey, loving others and expressing that love by loving words and deeds, we will start receiving the same love from others in higher intensity. Further, if we want others to forgive our offenses, our words of criticism, and our thoughtless judgments against them, then we should start forgiving their offenses against us and start appreciating their good qualities while encouraging them and supporting them in their needs.
We need to pray for the strength to forgive. At every Mass we pray the “Our Father”, asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. Our challenge is to overcome our natural inclination to hate family members, co-workers, neighbours and all who offend us. To meet that challenge, we need to ask God for the strength to forgive each other. We must forgive because only forgiveness truly heals us. If we remember how God has forgiven us, it will help us forgive others. Let us start forgiving right now by curbing the sharp tongue of criticism, suppressing the revenge instinct, and patiently bearing the irritating behaviour of a neighbour.