Luke 6: 27-38 (Matins)
From today’s second reading:-
“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.
And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
If I was to ask you to think of the best thing that you could do, for the worst person you know and then to go ahead and do it, I wonder what you would think of me.
However if I was to ask you to think of what you would really like someone to do for you and when you have told me, I then told you to go and do it to the worst person you know, what would you think of me then.
Thinking of the people to whom you are tempted to be nasty and lavish generosity on them instead seams very strange to us.
The Question is it possible for us to treat our enemies as friends!
As Christians the answer should be yes, but it is probably always no.
These instructions of Jesus in this reading have a fresh, spring like quality about them.
They are all about new life bursting out energetically, like flowers growing through concrete and startling everyone with their colour and vigour.
Jesus point in today’s second reading was not to provide His follows with a new rule-book, a list of dos and do not’s that and we can tick off one by one, and then sit back satisfied at the end of a successful moral day.
The point was to inculcate and illustrate an attitude of heart to His followers, a lightness of spirit in the face of all that the world could throw at them and us today.
And at the centre of it, is the thing that motivates and gives colour to us and the world; which is what we should be like because that is what God is like.
God is generous to all people, to everyone, it does not matter who they are, He provides good things for everyone all to enjoy, the undeserving as well as the deserving.
He is astonishingly merciful; anyone who knows their own heart truly, and still goes on experiencing God’s grace and love will agree with this, how can we, His forgiving children, do any less?
Only when people discover that this is the sort of God we are dealing with, will the world have any chance of making this way of life theirs.
In fact, this list of instructions from Jesus is all about what God’s people should believe in, and about the way of life that follows as a result of believing in the one true God.
However we must admit with shame that large sections of Christianity down the years seem to have ended up with, little or nothing of the God that Jesus was talking about.
It seems to have believed instead in a gloomy God, a penny pinching God, a God whose only concern is to make life difficult, and salvation nearly impossible.
But, by the same token, this passage in St Luke’s Gospel corrects the old idea, which was around in Jesus’ day, and thought by some people today that all religions are really all the same, that all gods are really variations on the same theme.
The God that Jesus talks of, is the one true God, is different.
If we could live in a society where everyone believed in this one true God, there would not be any violence.
There would not be any revenge.
There would not be any divisions of class or caste.
Property and possessions would not be nearly as importance, as making sure your neighbour was all right before yourself.
Jesus’ whole life was of one exuberant generosity, giving all he’d got to everyone who needed it.
He would speak of what he knew the great love of His Father, and the call to live a lavish human life in response.
And finally when they struck Him on the cheek and ripped the coat and shirt off His back, Jesus went on loving and forgiving them.
Jesus did not show love only to His friends but to his enemies, weeping over the city that had rejected His plea for peace.
“And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.
For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus was the true embodiment of the God of whom He spoke.