Friday, February 16, 2007

Love. Bless. Pray.

This weekend’s Gospel. Luke 6: 27-38.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“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;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

The Sermon on the Plain continues: Although the righteous will be persecuted and rejected and God will judge the persecutors, Jesus issues a call to love the enemy. In fact, Jesus' call is specific: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whether in attitude, action, word or intercession, the enemy is to be loved.

The exhortation is underlined by three concrete examples. First, if someone strikes you on the cheek, then offer him the other. Such a slap would be delivered by the back of the hand, though the context here suggests any action that communicates rejection. Jesus' point is that even in the midst of such rejection, we continue to minister to others and expose ourselves to the threat of rejection.

Second, Jesus gives the example of someone stealing one's outer garment. He advises letting them have the undershirt too! The point is that one should not seek revenge but remain exposed and be willing to take even more risks.

Third, one is to be generous and not keep account. Disciples should be marked by a genuine readiness to meet needs. To the one who begs, give. From the one who takes, do not seek to get it back.

It is no accident that Jesus' words against judgmentalism come right after the call to be merciful as God is. An unwillingness to be judgmental is almost a requirement for those who face persecution. Without it, lines of battle would become hardened and the ability to love the enemy would be destroyed.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try not to be judgemental and do not think that I am. However, I just found that someone reprinted my personal blog -- to which I post every day -- and reprinted it in three separate blogs which have oodles of advertising on them. That is simply wrong. I am careful with regard to respecting copyrights. I ask for permission to reprint. When I write under my own byline, it is either for a paying market ... or for my blog. .... I wonder what Jesus would have me do. (Simply being cross just doesn't cut it and just letting it keep happening seems to me to be just plain stupid!)

1:10 PM  

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