Love in Action
In the gospel for Sunday Jesus’ words challenge us to love as God loves. We are challenged to love with a depth beyond imagining. God loves us beyond anything we can possibly imagine. In response to God’s love, we are to love with every thought, word and action that we are capable of. This is no small feat but one that takes reflection and prayer to keep us on track.
The words from the Gospel of Luke are a continuation of his Sermon on the Plain we heard last week focusing on the Beatitudes. Today we hear some of the most challenging words in all of scripture.
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.”
There is no argument that this is a challenging reading, but it has been said before that the words of scripture have power to change us if we reflect on and pray with them, if we make them our own. The challenge for this week, and for the whole of our lives, is to make these words of Jesus real in our lives. It may be helpful to take one challenge from among the many and make it your own. Try for the next seven days to pray about how you can practice it every single day. Be honest with yourself about what is difficult about it and why. In what ways can you have a change of heart by practicing this directive. Give it your all!
Which directive do you find the most difficult to practice? How will you practice it this week?
How can you change your perception so as to see these directives as your love of God in action?