Luke 6: 27-38
1Cor 8: 1b-7,11-13 / Ps 139:1-3, 13-14, 23-24
But 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.
Jesus showed us how we must care
For friend or foe, sinner or saint,
Just as in His love we all share
Without prejudice or restraint.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. 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 are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6: 27-38)
In our renewal community we find it so easy to express our love because it is readily reciprocated. We casually do favors for each other because caring and harmony are integral in our culture. We pray for God’s blessings on those who are kind to us, and we offer our cheeks when we greet each other with a kiss. But our Lord Jesus asks us, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Lk.6:32) Jesus wants us to bring our loving to a higher level. “But rather, love your enemies and do good to them… 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.” (Lk.6:35-36) How do we behave in other places or circumstances outside our community?
The Gospel reading today convicted me for my shameful behavior one night in our runners’ club meeting, where I lost my cool in a heated argument with another past president whose behavior had been a constant irritant in the past. For momentarily losing my temper, I had to excuse myself from further discussions and went home early. Alone with my thoughts on the way home, I realized my failure to practice compassion when it was most needed because of my prejudice against that person. All the people in that room are good friends, fellow runners, most of whom have been running buddies for decades. The president of the club even asked me to lead the prayer before the start of our dinner meeting. I prayed for the grace of discernment and understanding to be the rule in our meeting. How ironic that I would be the first to break it. I could only thank God for friends who understand us when we are at our worst. When I measured myself, I found my behavior sorely wanting.
Thank you, dear God, for friends who guide us in the right paths, who show mercy and forgiveness even when we become arrogant and biased. Bless them, we pray. And forgive us, Lord, when we sometimes succumb to anger. Amen.
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