Gospel Reflection Feb 24 – Deacon Don

Sunday, February 24

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:27 – 38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Today, power can come to us in many forms – misuse of money, influence, prestige, politics, and even bullying. We are confronted with it daily among our leaders and others around us. With expanding social media, we are experiencing a general decline in civility that now bombards us and our children today. There is a growing feeling of normalcy creeping into our behavior that, even a few years ago, would have been considered abhorrent. In general, we see the need to force others to accept what we want – without compromise or debate.

The Gospel today gives us an alternative kind of power. It is the power of love, forgiveness, and justice. Use of this kind of power provides benefit to both the giver and the receiver. This “turning the other cheek” business seems almost silly and hopelessly idealistic by today’s values. It seems perfectly natural to strike back and it seems even acceptable to strike first and often.

In reality, it requires more courage and strength to not hit back. Unfortunately, one bad act leads to another and then another until the original disagreement is lost amongst hate and retaliation. When Ireland was facing terrorism back in the 1970s, a poster was used to ask the terrorist: “You are ready to kill for peace, are you ready to die for it?” Unfortunately, leading examples of peace seem to die violently, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Even at Jesus’ moment of death, he gave us his message of peace and forgiveness. Jesus’ notion of love wants us to restore life, truth, justice, and right relationships between people.

What the Gospel is saying is far from impossible or idealistic. It is a human truth from our very creation first lost in the garden of Eden and then restored with Jesus’ incarnation. It is really a question of our attitude and commitment to the Gospel. It is difficult, but no less than what is asked of us. The view of love here is not that of emotion or feelings, but one of conviction, forgiveness, and definitive action – to restore and to maintain human dignity and justice. Forgiveness in the Gospel always implies reconciliation. It also involves our active non-violent campaigning, sticking one’s neck out, and speaking out against injustice. Jesus is not offering us an option today but the only way that makes sense out from the current self-destructive path we may be on. It is the only way that is truly human.

Deacon Don Poirier