1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,11-13,22-23, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, Luke 6:27-38
I remembered when I was a seminarian working in one of the remotest areas of an Archdiocese during my inter diocesan apostolic work. On that evening, there was a heavy downpour and as usual, the road was devastated and very bad to ply on by drivers and foot walkers combined.
There were also many roads to reach my destination. I decided to choose a road that I considered would have been favourable to me. But unfortunately, the road too was very bad, but I tried to manage it because I considered it as the lesser evil and also because I was on soutane, walking back home.
Then as I was walking home, A young man who may be in his fifties was driving his car with all his energy and amid the miry water. I was waving hands for him to take it easy to avoid splashing water on my soutane, but it seems he was not even seeing me, and guess what, he painted my soutane with muddy waters. I felt so bad.
The most devastating part of it was when he looked back at me and shouted “are you blind? You didn’t see that the road is bad, waka”. He made a gesture to me.
Then I was enraged and fuming in anger. Later, the little boys who were accompanying me said to me “semi let’s go, don’t worry, we will wash it”.
Then I went to the little market nearby and bought a shirt and went back to the parish, and changed my soutane because it was all filled with mud and then put on the shirt. Guess what happened, while we were going back, I met the young man again with his car trapped inside the miry water and was seriously seeking someone to help him.
The little boys accompanying me pointed at him and told me that it was the same man. When the man saw us. He closed his mouth and couldn’t call for help again. In His mind, he concluded that we would not help him. When we reached there, my mind pushed me to curse and abuse him but I held back my anger and calmed it.
Then the boys following were already angry talking to Him. Then, as we passed the man a little, I said to myself, let us do something funny. I asked the boys to go and help him push away the big car.
They looked at me and laughed. Later, they went back and surprisingly for the man who was just mouth closed, the boys helped him and pushed out the car. He looked at us and began to apologise for what He did. The man promised that He will buy a new soutane and all that and even collected my contact information.
He visited several times and always brought ube na oka (maize and pear). Until I left that place, we became good friends.
Sincerely, that experience taught me that when your enemy expects you to retaliate and repay evil with evil, do otherwise. It pays to overcome evil with goodness and love than overcome evil with evil.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul says “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In our lives and experiences, we must encounter people who are going to treat us badly. Some people will even betray us and do all kinds of evil to us. We must encounter different kinds of people who will cause us great pains and regrets. As you are reading this now, I know you are remembering them one by one.
When we encounter these people, our spirit will force us to take revenge and pour abusive words on them. Our hearts will convince us that the best way to treat these kinds of people is violence and hatred.
But the readings of today are teaching us to learn how to overcome evil with goodness and love. Goodness pays. One of the priests of Orlu Diocese Msgr Nathaniel Ndiokwere will tell you “embarrass your enemies with Love”. Keeping malice can never be a solution but overcoming evil with goodness is the Key. It can even change the heart of the sinner
Many People Will Treat Mistreat You.
In life, we must meet people who are going to fight us for no reason. We must encounter those who will hate and try to pull us down. There are people when they hear your name, they become unnecessarily angry without you doing anything to them. In life, we must meet these people.
These are the people that Jesus says that we should repay with love. In a normal way, the best way to repay them is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But following the gospel of today and the first reading, we have to know that the only law that guides every Christian is the law of love. We overcome with goodness and love and not by hatred or evil.
In the first reading, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph hunting for David. Saul has tried everything within His human power to eliminate David and David was aware of this.
Today, the same David who was hunted got the opportunity to reply with evil but decided to repay with goodness. David on the normal parlance would have revenged but He did not. There are several reasons David would have executed His revenge. I will like you to read the first reading again. Saul went so extreme and determined to kill David.
1. History recorded that David was on the run from Saul for good four years. This continued from 1 Samuel 21-31, from 1018-1014 BC.
2. In the reading of today, Saul Went as far as Ziph, which is a great desert, not minding the pains. He also went up, with up to, three thousand men in search of one person.
Saul suffered pains in the desert, hunger, exhaustion, etc just for the sake of David. He even went with a huge number of soldiers to make sure that David was eliminated. This shows that if someone wants to kill you, He or she can go to any extent eliminate your life.
3. In Fact most of the psalms of David that we have today were His prayer and cries for deliverance when Saul was hunting for his life. Examples are Psalms 7, 59, 56, 34, 35, 23, 18 etc. Even Saul killed 85 priests at Nob because of David and many other things that he did.
Despite all these, David spares the life of Saul. This teaches us that we do not have to pick up revenge. Vengeance always belongs to the Lord. There is always an end to the wicked.
David’s attitude today teaches us to overcome evil with goodness.
Let us Overcome with Goodness and Love.
In the first reading of today, David spared the life of Saul, while he got the opportunity to take his pound of flesh and further left the battle in God’s hands and the Gospel reading from Luke 6:27-38 where Jesus teaches his disciples to be merciful as God is merciful is highly motivating.
This teaching from Jesus Christ if followed from our human inclinations is so difficult to take but what we can discover from this teaching is that anybody can return evil for evil but God wants His children to live like Him. God wants his children to live only with love. Love is a very powerful spiritual principle.
You may have people in your life who have done you wrong and you have a right to be angry and bitter, you may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by somebody who has mistreated you or deceived you, but if you will choose to let go of your grudge and forgive them you can overcome the evil with good.
God sincerely rewards good acts like that. God takes up battles when you place them in His hands. When you make your battle, God’s battle, He will sincerely take it up. Take time and read 2 Chronicles 20. If anybody had a right to return evil for evil, it was David and Joseph.
I wondered why David chose to spare the life of Saul when he was certain that the same Saul is after His life. Invariably, David knows this spiritual principle and left his battle with Saul in God’s hands.
The brothers of Joseph hated him so much and threw him into a deep pit and further sold him into slavery after agreeing to kill him. As years went by, Joseph experienced all kinds of troubles and heartaches; Joseph was in prison for many years.
After Joseph was promoted to a higher position, his brothers came to buy provisions from Egypt and met the same, Joseph. At first, they didn’t recognize Him. Joseph finally said, ‘don’t you know who I am? I am Joseph your brother, I am the one you threw into the pit, and I am the one you tried to kill, the brother you sold into slavery”.
Can you imagine what was going through his brother’s mind? Imagine the fear that must have gripped their hearts? This was Joseph’s opportunity to pay back his brothers for the years of pain and suffering they had caused him. Joseph could have ordered them to be killed and imprisoned but Joseph said “do not be afraid, I am not going to harm you. He repaid them with good.
Jesus never cursed his persecutors but prayed for them. We have to sincerely discover that when we put a battle in God’s hands, He will surely make it up to us but when we take a battle on our own, it may eventually end in more crises. Let us overcome evil with goodness and love.
How to Overcome Evil with Goodness and Love
To overcome evil with goodness and love may seem difficult but let us take these necessary steps which we can derive from the readings: They are:
1. Seek the Spiritual Values.
Spiritual values are love, peace, goodness, kindness, hope, faith, self-control, joy etc. When we seek to live in the spiritual, we will always long for these values. To live in the spiritual world is to live like God. When we seek to be like God, we will always live in love and peace.
In the second reading, Paul differentiates between the first Adam and the last Adam. The first Adam is earthly by nature and the second is spiritual by nature. As this earthly man was, so are we on earth. Then, as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven. And we, who have been modelled on the earthly man, will also be modelled on the heavenly man.
Therefore, though we are earthly and sometimes filled with human inclination to act like humans, we are also modelled according to the heavenly. In essence, we have to overcome the earthly, with the spiritual or heavenly. Therefore, let us seek to live like Jesus who loves us even though we are sinners (Roman 5:8).
2. Remember Who You Are
Whenever you are tempted to treat others badly or act out of revenge, remember who you are. You are a disciple of Jesus Christ. And In today’s gospel, the injunctions given today were addressed by Jesus to His disciples. Therefore, to be a Christian is already a decision to be a disciple of Jesus and if we are His disciples we have to obey His commands. So, remember who you are whenever there is a temptation to act out of emotions.
3. Always Focus on the Good.
To overcome evil with goodness and love, always focus on doing good and not evil. In the gospel, Jesus says “to you who hear I say love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. Therefore, despite the evil and plans against you, seek and focus on always doing good. Many people may see it as a weakness but focus only on the good. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
4. Do Unto Others as You would have them Do Unto You.
In the gospel, Jesus says do unto others what you would want them to do to you. This is a golden rule that has cut across every aspect of our lives. If you want them to do good to you, be the first to show them goodness. What we give to others sometimes is what we get.
5. What You Give is What You receive.
Let us always know this whenever we are dealing with others. When you are happy pulling the trigger, killing innocent people, remember that in the same way, you shall go. When you are happy that you are treating people badly, remember that you are inviting that into your life.
Therefore, let us be fast to show mercy, love and understanding. In the gospel, Jesus says “stop judging and you will not be judged, stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you, for the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. Therefore, we have to give what we want to receive.
6. Do Not Let Evil Overcome You.
In Romans 12:21 Paul says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Jesus was the perfect example of overcoming evil with good: “When His persecutors hurled insults at him, He did not retaliate; He did not fight back nor seek for their death.
When they suffered and flogged Him He surrendered everything to the father. Therefore, let us not allow evil to take the lead. Goodness must win. In submitting Himself to the evil of His captors, Jesus conquered sin, Satan, and death (Ephesians 4:8–10). When we do not give evil a foothold, we avoid trouble and other things that may come from it.
7. Live Like the Father.
Another thing is that God wants us to live like Him because we are his children. In the gospel, Jesus says. Love your enemies and do good to them and lend expecting nothing in return, then our reward will be great and we will be called children of God for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
So, how does God love His enemies? In Matthew 5:45 Jesus gives two practical examples. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
In the Jewish community, good weather was very important for the Jewish farmers. So, there are righteous farmers and unrighteous farmers. The righteous may be considered as God’s friends while the unrighteous are those who would be considered God’s enemies.
Despite this, God gives sunshine and rain to all the farmers in equal proportion. So, when God gives good sunshine and rain to an evil farmer, it’s an example of God loving His enemies.
Therefore, he makes no distinction between evil and good. He gives good gifts to all. This is the reason that even the evil ones prosper. God showers His love to everyone without distinction.
There will be a time of judgement in the future, but, until then, God graciously gives good things, even to those who hate Him. God does not withhold all blessings. Therefore, if God is so generous with His enemies, then we should be as well.
In the gospel, Jesus says, be merciful just as your father is merciful. If we are sons of the father, let us also live like Him.
1. Proverbs 25:21–22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
This is exactly the passage Paul quotes in Romans 12:20. Then Paul advises all Christians to “overcome evil with good.”
To “heap burning coals on his head” simply refers to the natural response of the enemy to kindness.
When they treat you badly, they will always want you to react badly. They want you to fight back, but when you overlook them, they will be wondering if what they are doing to you is not effective. Your enemies will always know the effectiveness of their attitudes to you, through your reactions to their mistreatment.
There is nothing that makes us feel more ashamed and embarrassed by our actions than someone reacting to our hurtful behaviour with gentle forgiveness.
In essence, when we show kindness in the face of unkindness, it keeps the enemy uncomfortable and wondering. If you want to keep them uncomfortable, embarrass them with love. They will not have peace.
2. David in the first reading teaches us to overcome evil with goodness and love. He teaches us that vengeance belongs to God and He will repay everyone according to his deeds (Hebrews 10:30). Also, the first reading teaches us that no matter what the enemies do and no matter the level they go to eliminate us, one who is with God is the majority.
Saul did everything to stop David, yet David ascended the throne. Therefore, whatever God determines will come to pass despite any evil plan against you.
Let us learn to live a life of total surrender to God. We can entrust ourselves to God, just like Jesus did. God knows how He will transform those evil acts committed against us for our good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).
Even, the more they work to bring you down, the more God uses what they do to uplift you. Let us always learn to live a life of total surrender to God and overcome evil with goodness and love. Goodness pays.
3. Let us know also that violence cannot drive out violence, rather violence brings more violence and more evil. In Matthew 12:25-28, Jesus reminded the Pharisees that Satan cannot drive out Satan.
In essence, evil cannot drive out evil. An evil response only doubles the evil. Hatred for hatred begets more hatred. But good neutralises the hatred. Evil begets more evil, We cannot expel darkness with darkness, rather, we can expel darkness with light.
We cannot stop people from doing evil, but we can as well teach them that goodness is better than evil. A little kindness shown to someone can have a ripple effect. Let us learn to overcome evil with goodness and love.
Evil is never overcome by more evil. Sometimes mistreating people who have done the same to you makes matters worse.
The point is that God’s children overcome evil with goodness and love. Keep walking in love and have a good attitude. God is seeing what you are doing. Take God as your Refuge and Vindicator and He will surely vindicate you.
4. In Psalms 4:2-4, David calls God “my Vindicator”. David knew down within him that he would never lose out. In Psalm 18:2 David also calls The LORD His rock and fortress and deliverer, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”. And God vindicated Him in all His battles.
Imagine David crying for Absalom His son who was fighting tooth and nail to take away the throne from Him. Beloved, you may think you are getting the short end of the stick when people do you wrong, sometimes you look for revenge.
Take that battle to the spiritual; simply put everything in God’s hands, you will see that God will make sure He will make it up to you. He will make sure you will never lose anything valuable; your just reward surely must be waiting for you.
Your responsibility is to remain calm and peaceable even when those around you are not. This is not always easy. Make it a trial and see that surely God is always there for you.
5. The problem in the world is that we are going left when God is teaching us to go right. Jesus has taught us to love our enemies and do good to them but the problem is that we are always burned with the desire to get even and retaliate. We want revenge and not forgiveness and this is the reason, problems keep increasing.
Jesus teaches us to be people of peace and service but we are often aggressive and want to dominate others. We want to be in control. He teaches us to be merciful and compassionate like God our father but we are often indifferent to the sufferings of our neighbour and the people living with and around us. We decide to live in a quarrel when God wants us to live in peace and love. That is the problem.
If We need love, let us be the first to sow the seeds of love. If we need peace, let us be the first to sow the seeds of peace. Love should be our guide and not hatred.
Therefore, let us follow the law of Christianity. The law of Christianity is the law of love and goodness.
May God give you the grace to forgive and overcome evil with good. Amen.