Who is the worst person that you know? Who is the person who is causing you the most grief right now? Who is your greatest enemy? Or the person who causes you to lose sleep at night…?
It’s probably better to be someone that we know well – a friend, partner, neighbour, colleague. But it could be some public figure, a politician or official. Maybe it’s an arrogant world leader who seems hell-bent on pushing the world into the next war.
Do you have someone in mind? I certainly do!
Okay, now go ahead and think of the very best thing that you can do for them – then plan to do it.
Or think of the best thing that you would like someone to do for you – and do it for them, instead.
Think of the people to whom you are tempted to be nasty, and lavish generosity on them instead.
The kingdom that Jesus preached and lived was all about a glorious, uproarious, absurd generosity.
All of the things that Jesus says in this gospel remain so fresh and vibrant, with all of this life and energy bursting forth.
You might reject these sayings of Jesus as pie-in-the-sky and unworkable. The world is so often a very dark place. But the point of these teachings was not to give us a new checklist of items to measure ourselves by. It’s not a new rule book or a list of dos and don’ts that you can tick off and feel satisfied by.
Jesus was pointing us to the reality of who God is and what God is like. He was wanting us to have an attitude of heart and a lightness of spirit.
He was telling us: you are to be like this because that’s what God is like. God is generous to all people, generous to a fault: he provides good things for all to enjoy, the undeserving as well as the deserving. He is astonishingly merciful. The word for compassion in Hebrew, comes from the word for womb. When Jesus describes God as being compassionate, he is really saying that he is like a woman who cherishes and protects the precious child in her womb.
How can we, his forgiven children, be any less? We for-give, because we have received from the absolute generosity of God. Only when people discover that this is the sort of God they are dealing with will they have any chance of making this way of life their own.
This God is different. If you lived in a society where everyone believed in this God, there wouldn’t be any violence. There wouldn’t be any revenge. There wouldn’t be any divisions of class or caste. Property and possessions wouldn’t be nearly as important as making sure your neighbour was all right.
Imagine if even a few people around you took Jesus seriously and lived like that. Life would be exuberant, different, astonishing.
How many people do you know who really live like this? How many communities do you know where these guidelines are rules of life? What’s gone wrong? Has God changed? Or have we forgotten who he really is?
- First Reading ‡ 1 Samuel 26:2.7-9.12-13.22-23 The Lord has put you in my power, but I will not raise my hand against you.
- Responsorial ‡ Psalm 102:1-126.96.36.199-13 The Lord is kind and merciful.
- Second Reading ‡ 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Just as we have carried the earthly image, we must carry the heavenly image.
- Gospel ‡ Luke 6:27-38 Be merciful as your Father is merciful.
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