Priest's Perspective

Gospel Reflection – 9 September Luke 6:27-38

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Jesus

27But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what is yours, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34And 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.

35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, 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 back to you.”

Quiet simply Jesus calls us to a very different way of living. Doing good by the worlds standards which are doing good so others will do good to you is not rated very highly by Jesus. In fact he says  – what impresses him is when we do good to those who in our own eyes aren’t worth treating well.  Jesus here, is clearly challenging the Pharisaic laws and our own culture.

There are two pebbles that I want to  throw in out your pond this morning and  may the ripples on the waters of your thoughts influence your thinking and may you ask the Spirit to move your hearts and minds.

One Jesus is not saying that we must be a soft target for criminals – he is saying that defending our own rights, defending our status, upholding our own dignity should not be our primary concern. Caring for others should be our primary concern. St Francis of Assisi took this principal very seriously and we are taught through his life of poverty following Jesus’s willingness to be sacrificial in our approach to life. In the world we learn that being right, being better than others, upholding our own dignity are the characteristics of greatness. This of course leads to judgementalism – thinking that we are better than and superior to others, leads us to deny them the things that we think we deserve because of our status. Christianity is a faith and a religion that should see materialism as idolatry. We are called to use the gifts that God has given us, our wealth, for the benefit of others and not just for ourselves. We live in one of the most unequal societies on earth, mostly because we have an attitude of looking after ourselves first, much of the corruption that we see is from people who believe that it their right to reap the rewards of this earth for themselves. In South Africa we have seen Capitalist’s and Communists alike falling prey to materialism. What about us, how materialistic are we. How selfish are we? Just think about how loving how caring and how sacrificial your life is? That is what Jesus is challenging you to do in this text. Do you live for yourself and your own ends alone, or do you live to make the world a better place. A place of love. We are called to love the world back to God , not judge the world. Now this is the second pebble. Judging and discerning are two different things. When we judge someone, we condemn them. When we discern that someone’s actions are wrong in the eyes of the Lord, we will reach out to them in love and seek to correct them, having removed our ‘log in the eye” of pride and superiority, we will seek reconciliation and repentance and together journey in the grace of God. Christians are called to uphold a moral standard. But that standard must be exercised in a loving, love convicts the sinner but does not condemn them. Love calls for right action and for harmony one with another. Love does not exclude another because they do not live up to our standards.

This is not an easy teaching this morning. And calls us to reorder our thinking and grow into a new way of considering others as more important than ourselves – checking our actions and asking, is this uplifting the other person, is this building them up, or am I trampling them down so that I can get ahead, I can feel good about myself.

let us pray.

Lord give us the mind of Christ so that we may embrace the heart of generosity and care for others. May our lives be a living sacrifice, one in which we uphold your law for the benefit of the world and not to condemn it. Teach us to love others as you love us. For this oh Lord we need your Holy Spirit to be our strength and our power – so that we can give ourselves to your service. and this we pray in the name of God father Son and Holy Spirit Amen.

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