‘But 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.’
Today is Thursday the 12 September, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.
Entering into prayer today, I begin by recognising that I am in the presence of God – not a God to be scared of, but a God of compassion and love, in whose presence I am safe, in whose presence I do not have to defend myself, in whose presence I can be still. I place myself, my worries and my hopes, my whole life, in the hands of my loving God.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke.
Just when it looked like Jesus was about to declare war on the rich who exploit the poor, we get this outrageous command to love our enemies. Imagine the confusion of the disciples fired up by Jesus’ option for the poor who then insists that we must love even those responsible for their plight.
The theologian Walter Wink has an interesting commentary on this business of turning the other cheek and giving up your shirt when your coat is taken from you. For him, it is nothing to do with passivity in the face of unreasonable behaviour but a creative non-violent resistance to evil: Option for the poor AND love your enemies! This Jesus is really very interesting. What do you want to say to him today?
Listen again, and you might just imagine the disciples hearing this for the first time.
You too are a disciple. How do you respond to this Jesus?