“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:27-37
Today I am at a retreat center in Albuquerque with colleagues working on curriculum planning for various trainings. It is a lovely spot, just to the west of the Rio Grande, majestic in its desert beauty. We are working hard to strengthen the Indigenous leadership within the church and to encourage those who have not understood how to be supportive to Indigenous ministries. We are striving to put the past in its place with education, provide healing for those who are hurting and to move beyond old anguish that held folks back to making partners and friends with everyone concerned.
In our Gospel today we find Jesus continuing to teach from the mountain side. He is setting the traditional "eye for an eye" theology aside to a new way of living. He suggests we love those who hate us, be kind to those who terrorize us, forgive those who have hurt us and to be generous without expectations in return. God invites us today to live in the present putting the petty jealousies and conflicts behind us, and to live loving and engaging with everyone. No easy challenge for we are often taught early on who and how to hate. But we also know, as we invite love in, love will overwhelm even the darkest of places and the most painful of relationships.
Today I ask God to help me love without restriction, forgive without limits and live as a good neighbor to all. May we find within ourselves those places that need love and turn to God for help. And may we seek those who we have angered or hurt and ask forgiveness. May we do our all to make love the sign of of faithfulness to God's call.