Sunday, February 24, 2019

“When God wants to sort out the world, as the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount make clear, he doesn't send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the justice hungry, the peacemakers, the pure-hearted and so on.”

The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God.- Leo Tolstoy: (1828 – 1910: was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time)

Gospel Text: (LK 6:27-38)
Jesus 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.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
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.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.” 

Jesus’s discourse in todays Gospel from Mass begins with a key phrase, “to you who hear...”. One would assume the hearing is intact for the great majority of people who were gathered, so why begin is discourse with that phrase? Perhaps Jesus is speaking to those who “get it,” whose world view had already been turned upside down. Those who were already living in the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Love, understand that Jesus is talking about receiving our identity from God, rather than from how others treat us. “Nobody is going to take advantage of me” is not an identity we receive from God. 

Those who live in the kingdom are willing to risk being generous, forgiving and vulnerable, as they draw from the Ultimate Abundant Source – God – the source of all generosity, forgiveness and vulnerability. They live without the protection of power, position, privilege and righteousness. “We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God!” is how the song goes. Letting our light shine brightly, without fear of being snuffed out, ushers us into the kingdom of God now, not later.

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