The Gospel of Luke 6:27-38
Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the 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, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Let us Pray: “Lord, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and set our hearts free that nothing may make us lose our tempers, disturb our peace, take away our joy, nor make us bitter towards anyone” This we pray in your name Jesus our Lord and our Redeemer. Amen
We have been through a period that we should have read this lesson early in 2020. The teaching is addressed explicitly “”I say to you that listen” making it very inclusive. Sometimes we wonder whether the text is addressing us. In this case, we may be sure this text is addressing us, along with anyone else who reads/hears it. Jesus is calling us to examine ourselves and treat others like we want to be treated. There will be varying responses, there are people who there is no way we can forgive them or love them. But Jesus wants us to. Jesus understands that forgiving is first a decision. However, it also is a process. The path to forgiveness may take a long time, and understandably so. However, we must choose to take the first step. No one can force us to take this step; we are the only ones who can make this decision. And it may take a long time before we are ready and willing to begin the process of forgiveness. These bluntly spoken words are difficult to hear. They may challenge us at the deepest level of our being. Most likely, each one of us has been wounded, betrayed, or rejected at differing times in our lives. If this person was a friend, this wounding typically is amplified since we trusted this individual. However, each one of us also has wounded or betrayed individuals in our life. It is all part of our human condition. When we have differences with people it leads to Judging, and judging causes us to find faults and makes us less likely to be able to treat them as we would like to be treated. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Therefore, portion out goodness to others in the same way you want it measured out to you. Give a good measure of love and a good measure of love will be given back. Your reward will be great. This is what the godly life is all about. It is difficult to do good to our enemies and not to retaliate. By treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated with loving-kindness and mercy. God is going to reward us for making these sacrifices. Jesus doesn’t ask for miracles nor does he want fake forgiveness. He continually invites us not only to forgive the individual who wounded us, but also to release ourselves from the pain, anger and hurt that binds us. Jesus is patient and yet persistent. He continually invites us and calls us to forgive. Perhaps today we can take one small step in this direction. We cannot even begin to imagine what the reward will look like when the God who created all things says we will have a great reward.
Let us Pray: Loving Father, forgiveness is the hardest thing we ever do – but refusing to forgive is worse. Thank you for the forgiveness that you have given us in Jesus. Let it sink in and work deep within us. Although it is so hard, teach us how to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness. Restore us to yourself, and to those who are separated from us, by their sins or by our own. This we pray in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen