Read these sacred words which begin today’s Gospel reading from Luke 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 most people in our society to treat others especially those you might consider to be liars, cheats, scoundrels, even enemies, Christ insists we extend our goodness, kindness even mercy and justice. But! This kind of response on our part makes absolutely no sense in our society. We have options and choices.
Jesus came to walk among ancient human beings not so much just to make an appearance. Rather Christ came then, and still comes into our modern lives, and is here resting within the very depths of those whose hearts and minds and daily lives make room for Christ. When we make time to pray on a daily basis we consistently discover and rediscover that indeed our Lord is a Lord of contradictions. Then again, so is life. Rather our one common thread with all God’s peoples is our shared imperfect human condition. Life is not logical, perfect, neat or orderly. In fact, society all too often is not civil. Acknowledging this aspect of our own lives and that of our broader society can make it easier for us as modern disciples of Christ to both recognize and acknowledge the above verses from Luke’s Gospel. Life is filled with contradictions. So too are you, me, and all human beings. Still, our good Lord encourages us to make ourselves present to, and available to those we might not like, those who do not think as we might, and even those people we might consider to be an enemy. Wow! What a contradiction! This is NOT logical! It can upon first glimpse make no sense! Yet, it is the wisdom of our Lord. And we have choices to make. Do I do things my way or the Way of Christ?
Loving one’s enemy is VERY tough! It makes absolutely no sense! There is no logical reason to do so! All these claims are quite true according to our logic. Yet, the contradictions of the Cross and the Resurrection direct us to carry our own Cross, take a risk, and to love even those we do not trust or like. WHY you might ask? It makes no sense! Be willing to love others, even those you do not like. Take the chance. Go for it!
Sometimes the Gospel makes no sense. Then again, all too often life itself makes no sense. Still, we do not quit in life. Likewise, we do not quit our daily journey in the company of Christ. Our Lord is with us now and until the hour of our death. Be aware of Christ’s presence as you journey through each passing hour and day. Be attuned to our Lord! Listen! Be a person whose heart is both attuned to the ways of Christ and is on fire with a love only God can grant, inspire, renew and strengthen. Live this hour and this passing day keenly aware of the love permeating the very depth of your being. Then go about your daily life humbled by God’s infinite love, His presence in your own life, and also in the lives of those you might not trust or like. With that heartfelt wisdom, learn to love even those not deserving of your love. Do this in the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then in prayer give thanks to God.
-Father Michael Briese
(NOTE: “The prophet is human, yet he employs notes one octave too high for our ears. He experiences moments that defy our understanding…Often his words begin to burn where conscience ends.”) — Abraham Heschel