A Brief Review
Most of the Protestant churches celebrated All Saints Sunday yesterday. This is in contrast to the Catholic Church which celebrates it on its actual day November 1st., which is a Catholic holy day of obligation. In order to not miss this important day in the church calendar, I am posting this piece covering the text that both Catholics and Protestants use on the day they celebrate All Saints Day. The text is Luke 6: 20-31. This text covers a key part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Plain. Most of this was discussed previously on the 6th. Sunday after the Epiphany. To review, this has Jesus delivering blessings and woes for humanity. As discussed previously the blessings and woes are offered to indicate how we are to respond to the faith that has been given to us.
Toward this end Jesus offers 4 blessings and 4 woes. Notably, the blessings do not mean a life free of pain and struggle. Verse 22 makes this clear “‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.’”. We are to faithfully struggle through the pains of this world, giving witness to God’s plan to carry us to the next. The other blessings are to be poor, hungry, and weepy. Also indicating that we are to struggle through as witness to God’s Good News.
A Stunning Teaching
The previous pericope stops at Verse 26. This passage continues from Verses 27-31, which is what I wish to focus on here. This sees Jesus teach us a stunning level of radical love that is to infuse our entire life and all that we do. This too, as the previous verses indicates, will involve struggle and entail a difficult witness.
This difficult teaching is the famous passage whereby Jesus tells us to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Verse 27-28). Jesus then goes on to offer the famous maxim about turning the other cheek and offering more than even your enemies want to take from you. He finishes this discourse in Verse 31 with the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”. The response to our faith in Jesus does not get any more radical and inclusive than this. If you think Jesus was not serious about this, consider that, from the Cross, He forgave those who crucified Him.
For us the implications are positively terrifying. Love our enemies? Forgive those who grievously wrong us? If they take our coat, give them our shirt? Are you crazy? This is the type of love God has shown us through Jesus and His death and resurrection, and the obliteration of all that stand between us and eternal life because of our belief in this. Considering the magnitude of this gift, and the fact that Jesus “walked the walk” regarding this teaching, it does not seem too much to ask that we strive for this level of love in response to God’s gifts of grace upon grace.
Obviously, we will fall far short of this standard, as imperfect creatures. This does not negate the need to strive for this as a response to God’s gift of our faith. It is just to recognize that when we do fall short of this standard, we ask God for forgiveness, and remember that nothing we did warranted God’s gifts to us and nothing we do will turn God away from us. Only unbelief can break our relationship with God. Sinful actions and the feelings of guilt that accompany them are just reminders of how blessed we truly are to have faith in a God who loves us beyond measure and without condition.
So, go forward with confidence that your belief has set you free. Do all that you humanly can to do to others as you would have them do to you, including your enemies. When you come up short just remember that God loves you that way too.
Praise Be to God