From the Pastor – February 24, 2019

Very Short PrayersJesus 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. …  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.” (Luke 6:27-28, 30-33)

The Gospel passage today is a continuation of the Sermon on the Plain we heard in last week’s Gospel.  And just as He did last week, he’s basically turning the law of the Old Covenant on its head in terms of understanding.  When someone did wrong to a Jewish person, the wronged person was told in the law: “if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”  Now, far from imposing punishment, the purpose of this law was to limit punishment.  The punishment must fit the crime.  So you could kill someone if they put out on of their eyes, you could only take one of their eyes.  If they wounded you once with a sword, you couldn’t stab then ten times in retribution.  Martin Luther King once commented on this application of the law by saying:  “If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.”  So Jesus is calling us to be merciful.  He’s calling us to use a different approach when dealing with each other.  Now “love your enemies” seems a little impossible for us.  How can we be expected to run over and embrace our enemies every time we see them?  Would our enemy even allow it?  Probably not.  What it really means is that must remove hatred from our hearts.  We rarely know what burdens others are carrying.  We rarely know what’s in someone else’s heart.  We rarely know what has motivated someone’s actions.

So why are we called to love those who hate us, bless those who curse us and do good to those who do evil to us?  Simply put, it’s because that’s what Jesus does.  Think how often we commit sins in the eyes of Jesus, yet He still loves us.  Think how often we use His Holy Name in vain, yet he blesses us.  Think how often we do wicked things, yet he gives us blessings.

This Gospel is our invitation to love each other in a Godlike way.  And the only way that we can do that is to enter into the love of the Holy Trinity, receive God’s love, and bring it into our daily encounters.  This isn’t something that we agree to one day, and then become perfect at doing.  This is something that we try and try and keep trying.  It’s the essence of Christian discipleship.  When we fail, we return to the Lord in Confession.  Then we receive the love of God contained in the Holy Eucharist.  Then we try again.
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty