1 Sam 26.2,7-9,12-13,22-23
1 Cor 15.45-49
Sexagesimae Sunday (1 Sam 26.2,7-9,12-13,22-23 / Luke 6.27-38)
by Dr. Wolfgang Schürger, Munich (translated by A. Hübel, Ludwigsburg)
Make peace, not war!
In Protestant churches, Sexagesima Sunday is all about spreading God’s Word. The spotlight is on the story of the conversion of Lydia, a merchant of purple cloth, and of her whole household. The first person to hear and accept the word of God on European soil was a woman. But to try and link this to the social dimension of sustainability would be rather artificial (see Acts 16.9-15 i.e. German Protestant lectionary). The social dimension of sustainability, is, however, clearly expressed by the Old Testament and Gospel readings according to the lectionary of the Roman Catholic church.
Jesus’ commandment to love one’s enemies is, without doubt, one of the most intractable texts in the New Testament: in a complete reversal of normal behaviour, we are to refrain from fighting back, to offer the robber even more of our possessions, and to love our enemies.
This is exactly how David behaves when he is pursued by Saul. Although he is able to reach Saul through the circle of wagons around the camp, he refrains from killing his enemy. He merely takes his spear and his water-jar, presenting them the following day to show that he has been in the midst of his opponent’s camp.
This is how he explains his actions to his astonished companion, Abishai: “Who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” If you are familiar with the blood feuds that still go on today in parts of the Arab world, you will soon realise how right David was: violence would breed more violence, and would cause lasting injury to the peaceful coexistence of the people and tribes. By foregoing violence, David keeps the People of Israel united, contributing to sustainable social cohesion.
There is a similar conviction behind Jesus’ words. Later in the passage, he offers thoroughly utilitarian grounds for his provocative commandment to love one’s enemies and give unreservedly: “The measure you give will be the measure you get!” and “Do to others as you would have them do to you!”
In the interest of sustainable social cohesion, it is sometimes necessary to disregard our personal sense of justice or desire for revenge, and to seek peace. David is able to do this – trusting that God himself will ultimately pass judgement on his enemy (verse 10).
by Dr. Wolfgang Schürger, Munich (translated by Anja Louise Hübel, Ludwigsburg)