“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, 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 to you” (Luke 6:35-58).
Sometimes I hear the Gospel proclaimed, and my response is, “Glory!” At other times the words sink slowly into my spirit and stay with me for reflection during the week. Today, though? I wanted to race out of the church thinking, I can’t do this!!
Well, of course I can’t. Isn’t that the point?
If I could act like this, if my heart was this pure, if I could “be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), then quite honestly, Jesus could have skipped the part about suffering crucifixion and death for me. Why even bother with the incarnation? What would be the point?
The point is that only by God’s amazing grace am I able to even want to live this way.
After listening to this Gospel in its totality, not just the few verses above, which are just the tip of the iceberg, my response ought to be one of deep humility, throwing myself on the mercy of God. I can’t do that, Lord! I can’t love my enemies and give without expecting anything back. It’s so hard to forgive, to stop judging! Help me. Let me look at others with your eyes that gazed at your executioners and said, “Father forgive them.” Help me to turn the other cheek just you did while they crowned you with thorns.
Do I feel condemned and discouraged when I see how far I am from the perfection asked for by the Lord? Then I need to go back to today’s Psalm: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes” (Ps 103:10).
Did you ever wonder what “requite” means? It means to pay back someone in the same manner something was done to you. Did someone lend you a dollar? Requite him by returning a dollar. Did someone kill your brother? Requite him by killing his brother. Our Father does not pay us back according to our crimes, our sins. He just plain, flat out does not requite us. His response is mercy. Always mercy. Even if, for our own good, we need to be disciplined, it is out of his great love and mercy for us that he disciplines us.
So, let’s listen again to today’s Gospel. Let’s know that these words are being given to us out of love. And know that he will give us the grace to be able to want to live this way, and then to actually live this way – to see others with love, to have his love toward our enemies, to live generously. Living according to these words will set us free, for if we forgive, we will be forgiven!! If we show mercy, then mercy will be shown to us.
PRAYER: Most merciful Father, thank you for giving us your Son to redeem us from our sins. We ask you now for that grace, won for us by his cross and resurrection, to love as you love, to love as your son Jesus loves, to love in the power of your Holy Spirit. Let me think of my enemy right now, and in your name and with your love, I forgive them for the wrong they did me and my family. I ask that you not hold it against them when they come before your throne. Lead them toward you, to know your love and your mercy so that they, too, may be set free.