Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:38-48
This past week marked the 25th anniversary of the Consecration of Barbara Harris. I was there that day, as a seminarian. We were informed that many death threats had been lodged and we were to be very careful and very aware. There were protesters during the service and Presiding Bishop Ed Browning treated them with respect. Some people didn't want to see a woman as a bishop. Despite it all the beauty of the moment shined through. A very elderly woman talked to me and told me she had driven from Washington through the night to be there. She told me her mother had been born in slavery and this moment was for all those women who had been born into slavery. This moment, for her, love conquered all the past horrors and abuse.
Jesus invites us to love our enemies. To love those who don't think we have a right to do and be what we are. This is so hard but so important. As we love though who hate us, we change the world. As we respect those who seek to do us harm, we change our own hearts and our own understanding. As we love beyond reason, we find God in our midst.
Today I ask God to help me love more and judge less. May we all be moved by God's holy spirit to change the world by our love. May we give respect and honor to those who would shun or hurt us, so that God might be seen in the midst of our world today.
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.