Today’s gospel is a relatively long text. However we might be able to take a snippet, perhaps even just three words, and these words would be a lifetime’s work in terms of attaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Love your enemies. Who can truly say that they love their enemies just as Jesus loved his enemies? Think of Jesus nailed to the cross forgiving the sinner and indeed finding excuses for those who put him there. It is a lifetime’s work to truly love our enemies and, to get anywhere close to the love of Christ, we must redact our own wayward wills and learn to develop as Christ-like people.
Compassion is at the heart of our Gospel message, yet it is compassion that is so difficult for us to attain. To not judge, to offer compassion to those we do not really want to give compassion to, these things are wildly difficult to sustain. Compassion is very much at the heart of the answer to this issue. Compassion, empathy towards others, is a key to letting others in to our lives, to allowing ourselves to be moved and changed and loved by others.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.