Imagine the hurt that David must have felt as King Saul and his “three thousand picked men” were pursuing him. He had risked his life to fight and kill the dreaded Philistine giant, Goliath, when no one in Israel was brave enough to do so. He thus delivered his king and country from the grip of their enemies. Now the king hated him and was hunting for him in the desert like a dog. What an ingrate!
David has a golden opportunity to kill Saul who was lying at his feet in deep slumber. David did not even have to use his own spear to kill the king, “The king’s spare was thrust into the ground at his head.” David did not even have to do the dastardly act himself. He could easily look away and allow his willing attendant, Abishai, to do it for him. Abishai had begged him, “Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spare; I will not need a second thrust!” None of Saul’s men would even know exactly who killed the king because “the Lord had put them into a deep slumber.” What a perfect chance to revenge and get even with the wicked king. But David chose to spare the life of the king who was bent on killing him for no reason despite all that he had done for him.
In his love for King Saul, David shows us three qualities of what we call a matured love. Firstly, matured love is a choice and a decision for the right action towards the other, no matter the past or one’s feelings. Despite his hurts, David had replied Abishai, “Do not harm him.” Secondly, matured love is right action for God’s sake and not primarily for the sake of the beloved. David did not allow Saul to be harmed, not because Saul was a good and just man who was kind to him, but because of his reverence for God who had anointed Saul king, “Who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished?” Thirdly, matured love is life-giving to the other no matter the prevailing circumstances. He said, “Today, though the Lord delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.”(See 1Sam 26)
Jesus also invites us to this same matured love. He gives us concrete ways of expressing and maturing in this love. He commands us, “Love your enemies” and not only our friends who are likable and pleasing to us. No matter what we feel or think about them, He commands us to make a choice for right action towards them, “Do good to those who hate you.” For the sake of the God of incessant blessings who is always “kind to the ungrateful and the wicked,” He commands us, “Bless those who curse you.” Choosing to bless them allows them to experience the same blessing that God has given to us in our unworthiness. We are to show our goodwill towards all by “praying for those who mistreat us.” We also give to those in need without making excuses or being selective, “Give to everyone who asks of you.”(See Lk 6:27-38)
Such a matured love is not the result of personal effort on our part. Such love is impossible for us apart from Jesus Christ. He is the one who made the choice to die for us “while we still sinners.”(Rom 5:8) He performed this act of obedience unto self-sacrifice out of love for the Father and not because we deserved it. He died and rose from the dead to give us a share in His own life so that we can love like Him. He gave us life because His love is perfectly matured, He is the source of our own matured love, and His Spirit prompts us to mature in love, even through the hurts of our lives.
In the words of St. Paul, “The first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” In Jesus Christ, the last Adam, we are no longer merely earthly people, so controlled by our natural instincts that we only love others immaturely. We now have in us the very Spirit of Christ that moves us to love maturely because of the redeemed image of Christ in us, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, so we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.”(1Cor 15:45-49)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we live in this fallen world, others will hurt us, especially those whom we love dearly. We may never understand why they hurt us by their words, actions, and omissions. We also cannot escape these hurts completely. Unfortunately, we can stop loving others because of the hurts that they have caused us. We may even choose to hurt them back physically or emotionally.
Let us remember that the hurts we receive from others have a role in God’s plan for our sanctification and holiness. Didn’t Jesus assure us of our utter vulnerability in this world? He said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” (Mt 10:16) The moments of hurt are the moments that we face and transcend our immature ways of loving i.e. how we tend to love others based on our feelings, the niceness of the person, or what we hope to get in return from him or her.
In those moments of hurt, God invites us to mature in our love for others. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we too can choose right actions towards others and do so out of love and reverence for God, and to communicate His life to others. If David treated Saul so nobly because Saul was the Lord’s anointed, shouldn’t we treat those who hurt us nobly because the Holy Spirit in baptism anoints them as God’s children? Indeed, we can always mature in love through these hurts if we also those who hurt us as anointed children of God.
Jesus also highlights the rewards that we get from maturing in love, “Your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High.” Our matured love brings us to experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives – love, joy, peace, etc. We receive such rewards from God only when we choose to love maturely, “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” God does not reward our immature love for others!
In each Eucharist, Jesus offers us grace to mature in love and to love like all others like Him every day of our lives. He also providentially gives us many opportunities to mature in this love, one of them being the many hurts we receive from our loved ones. We may never know why these hurts happen or how to avoid them completely. The last thing we should do is to hurt them back or cease loving them because of these hurts.
Let our love be matured and maturing every day and we will surely receive the amazing gifts that belong to us as God’s beloved children.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!