The profoundly Christian message in all its authenticity is enunciated today. We have all been taught to love God, our parents, our children, our friends and those who do us good. These seem natural to us, and yet we have such enduring difficulty with them. We recognize that only with God's freely endowed grace is this possible because of the inclination of man's fallen nature towards doing the easy thing and that of course, is to sin.
Our Lord prepares us for these expectations of today's reading by insisting "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you. When someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and give him the other; when someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to all who ask of you. When a man takes what is yours, do not demand it back" Finally then, He enters into the message of today's gospel narrative, while enunciating what mankind has labeled the golden rule, "Do to others what you would have them do to you." Luke 6: 27 -30.
Even before this, He sets the stage of reaction in the world against what He states is descriptive language of his followers and us as believers. "Woe to you when all speak well of you. Their fathers treated the false prophets in just this way' Luke 6: 26. We are all so afraid of our own perceived value and worth in the world. Who ever heard of allowing ourselves to be made a fool of? What selfrespecting person permits himself to be taken advantage of? What kind of person will submit in service to another, even if it is never going to be appreciated, rewarded or recognized? Who has met the person who allows himself to be walked on, even abused because he assumes the stature of Christ himself? Have we ever desired to become abject servants of others when our intentions and services are not liked or appreciated, but nevertheless vitally necessary? Wouldn't such an abused person be justified in seeking retaliation and revenge?
The answers swarm in our hearts and our mind and our soul. No one was meant to suffer such humiliation and deprivation and they are right. What our Lord is telling us is not to invite such heinous inhuman response from others, but when it is afflicted on us, we are not to respond as do people in the world. Ours after all, is not to be guilty of one-upmanship, the last devastating word, with pithy vitriolic words and destructive action in response. Because, after all, we do not belong to the values of the fallen world. We belong to Christ. Did He curse and punish as He was ridiculed? Did He swallow his persecutors in the bowels of the earth when they took away his life? When they reduced him to a mass of tom and ripped flesh while tied to a column and given forty lashes? Did he smite the pagan Pilate and witness him destroyed for his insolence? Did the scorners on the hill of Golgotha wagging their fingers toward him in derision turn to salt or stone?
Many are pleasers and flatterers and hypocrites - these are praised and marveled at by all men whose likes and weaknesses they flatter and satisfy. Who has not said, "I'll teach him a thing or two..." after being rejected, even humiliated? Such are these pseudo prophets of the world of whom so many are honored and glorified, whereas real believers, genuine teachers, faithful disciples are so often stoned and killed, literally if not figuratively. Instead of doing what is pleasing to God, not seeking the approval of other sinful men, we must do what is pleasing to our God and allowing ourselves to be debased because it isn't the opinion of man that counts, but the opinion of our God. We desire the honor and glory of God who will then heap upon us greater glory and more numerous honors than we can ever imagine.
Even the depraved world teaches us to be good to those who are good to us, to be benevolent, kind, even generous to them who like us, even love us. It is in this departure from the conduct of the world that separates the true believer and faithful follower and makes him a monumental, even riveting and memorable contender for a place in heaven. Who has not heard of the saint described as "a fool for Christ"?
So how does this apply in our daily living? On the practical level with so much upheaval in the world that ft ripples down into our family living we are given a practical solution. Instead of ignoring each other, instead of hating our wives, our husbands our children or family members and friends when disagreements arise, when difficulties occur, recognize the wisdom of our God who insists we be positively loving in all circumstances. If we cannot love someone properly as our wife, as our husband, as our child, as a friend, we can still love them as an enemy. Love is paramount! Love is necessary and will slowly but inevitably fix itself properly in our hearts to love as we ought with thee proper disposition of soul.
Who does not recall some time ago when the madman entered the Amish school and snuffed out numerous children's lives? Wasn't the world astounded when the Amish community without hesitation, turned with open arms of embrace and good will to the perpetrator? In doing God's will they overcame their own anguish, loss and pain. They were almost devastated by what occurred, but doing the will of God restored their spiritual equilibrium. How many victims of terrible crime turn to those who made them suffer and regaining their own sanity, offer forgiveness from heart and soul?
This is what our God expects of us. This is what our God is telling us. This is what separates us from the destruction of the world. We pursue God's will, his desires for our daily living. And it is only possible by his freely endowed grace. We are not abusers; we do not dispense evil nor are we witnesses to our own brand of justice. We permit the will of God to reign in our midst. We are content with his will reigning in our midst. We do not permit evil behavior to provoke similar behavior towards others in return.