Luke 6:27-38
27 Jesus said, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do
good to those who hate you,  28 bless those who curse you, pray for
those who abuse you.  29 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.  30 Give to everyone who begs from you;
and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them
again.  31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.  32 “If you
love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even
sinners love those who love them.  33 If you do good to those who do
good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the
same.  34 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.  35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and
you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;  38 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.”
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The words of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel for this morning intend to bring us
insight and hope. Yet, like the 1 st century audience, Jesus’ words tend
to be for us uncomfortable and problematic.

The thought of loving our enemies wishing us deliberate harm sounds
absurd. Doing good to those who hate us, praying for those who abuse
us, giving to all who ask of us, all of these are unrealistic, aren’t they?

We live in a society encouraging an unscrupulous and vulgar ‘dog eat
dog world’.

We value our personal independence and strive to climb the ladder of
success toward wealth and privilege.

Many times we are callous to the reality that our self-focused striving
positively or negatively effects the lives of others.

If we have an enemy, or even competition at work, we do our best to
conquer them so that we may live without threat in the manner we
choose.

And most recently, we see that society shames – never forgetting or
forgiving.

This is the norm of our society. I think this may be the reason why we
are so enamored with stories of people doing acts of kindness – it’s not
the norm.

Jesus’ words shed light on the dark-side of what we consider the norm.

In last week’s reading from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus spoke to his disciples
both blessings and curses.

“Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those weeping for the world and
hated for being faithful to God…” Encouraging words for many of his
peasant followers.

“But woe to you who have money & food enough and do not share…
Woe to you laughing now and enjoying admiration because the
distorted systems of this world benefit you…”

In today’s continuation of Jesus teaching his disciples, he gives no
permission to those who are blessed by God to treat badly those who
are cursed.

“If we could read the sacred history of our ‘enemies,’ we should find, in
each man and woman’s life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm
hostility.”

These words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow go a long way in teaching
us to be kind, not only to our enemies, but to all people.

Jesus tells his followers to love, do good, bless and pray for all people
without regard of their worthiness.

Jesus insists we look at others as God looks upon the world; and as
Jesus the Christ looks upon all of us.

He commends to his followers acting toward others as God acts
towards all: with mercy, forgiveness and generosity.

This is, of course, the example of how Christ Jesus lived and acts
towards all of us.

When we live such a life, we are blessed.

Jesus makes us aware that the blessings we give to others by looking on
them and acting toward them in a manner similar to God directly
correspond to the blessings we receive.

Love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, generosity, blessing, and praying
good will for all is at the heart of God and is required of God’s dear
children. And, it’s not easy living these values. But with God’s grace,
we can.

The amazing theological mind of Richard Rohr reveals this insight:
“Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their
fullness. The precise and intended effect of such a light is to see
Christ everywhere else. In fact, that is my only definition of a true
Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and
everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always
demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or
reject anyone.”

As I expressed earlier, Jesus’ words are intended to give us hope in a
world not sharing God’s values. Love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness,
generosity, blessing, and praying good wishes for all changes us and
transforms the world one life at a time.

If we sincerely welcome, adopt and live these values, we live as God
intends and we help in laying the foundation of God’s realm within
today’s world.

The late Henri Nouwen penned an essential question for all Jesus’
followers to ponder:
“Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?”
(Bread for the Journey, Harper, San Francisco, 1997)

The answer is most revealing. It tells each of us about our spiritual and
mental wellness, and exposes if we are living as God’s dear children.

May God help each of us to nurture lives committed to God’s values
and hearts overflowing with God’s blessings ready and willing to give.