Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel, Luke 6:27-38, is quite the challenge for us. We are called as those who first followed Jesus, to love our enemies. These words from Jesus are straightforward and he minces none. The mission of Jesus’ presence in the world and for our very own lives is to bring us together, to unite us in the message of peace. Where there is division, he hopes that his presence can heal and satisfy. Even in our complicated lives, harmony can happen.
Luke’s gospel always begins with what is real and honest in our lives. He says to those who have more than one coat, make sure that your extra ones will help keep another person warm. Our possessions, no matter what they may be, should be shared for the wellbeing of people. Even these items of clothing become a sign and witness to the Kingdom of God. We share our extra clothing today because these items help protect the body of another person, a sign of God’s everlasting Kingdom, a sign of unity on earth and of what is to come in heaven.
Jesus begins with the tangible, like a cloak, because that is the easier thing to share. He gets down to the nitty-gritty when he mentions “being merciful” or “stop judging” or “offer forgiveness.” These are the things that we struggle with the most in our own lives. These are the things that demand real change for us, real commitment on our part and yet have the most potential to bring us to Jesus’ side in heaven. These real and human obstacles to unity take work, energy and time.
We live today creating various enemies. We easily create tension in a black and white world. People are either on our side or they are our enemy. We immediately use violent hand gestures when someone cuts us off in traffic. We think people are our enemies when they vote differently than we do. We immediately are at odds with folks who believe the Church should go in a direction that we think is wrong. Our enemies in our nation are liberal or conservative, right or wrong, rich or poor. People with skin color different from us and languages of strangers threaten the status quo. Enemies become “we” when healing can happen. Enemies remain at odds only when we vilify people, thinking that their real identity is made from what we disagree with. People are more than the one opinion that makes us crazy.
“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 over flowing, will be poured in to your lap. For the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” These words of Jesus offer us his real presence both in prayer and in action, when we finally are able to believe in Him who is our real life here on earth. These words should be copied and taped to our bathroom mirror this year. These words deserve our attention today and every day of our lives.
Be at peace, with your self and your enemy.