The secret to the Kingdom
By Dawn Comissiong, LUKE 6:27–38
“I say this to you who are listening…” We can almost hear Jesus’ ringing voice as He speaks to crowds of His followers in the natural amphitheatre of that level stretch of ground in Galilee. He speaks with authority.
Luke, the evangelist, captures the scene for us as we too are invited to listen attentively to Jesus’ first sermon addressed to His 12 Apostles and His many followers.
“Love your enemies,” He begins. Then the Master goes on to spell out how this love should show itself: “Do good to those who hate you; Bless those who curse you; Pray for those who treat you badly”…Do that, and “you will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High”.
The listening crowd pressed closer in order to hear more of this great reward being promised. It seemed so simple. Jesus says a second time: “Love your enemies. Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”
Jesus explains simply to all His followers that if we pardon our enemies, God in His great mercy will pardon us for our sins. And if we do not judge and condemn those who hurt us, the Father will not judge us harshly either.
The more we give is the more we will be given. Jesus said that gifts will be poured out on us in abundance if we give freely to others. “Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”
What Jesus is saying is that our generosity, our forgiveness, and love towards those who may have hurt us is like an open chute for gifts to be poured into our lap.
And we will be sons and daughters of the Most High, who is compassion and love.
Through today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ voice speaks to our hearts: “My dear disciple, let me share the secret of the kingdom with you. Remember how I forgave my enemies when they nailed me to the cross? I prayed for them even while they treated me as the worst criminal, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.’
“You do the same thing now. Love your enemies. Pray for them, and do not curse them. Do good to all who treat you badly. Give freely to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for repayment of your loan. Offer your other cheek to whoever strikes you on one cheek. No retaliation, no resentful looks, no silent treatment towards anyone who hurts you!”
When someone hurts me deeply, my natural tendency is to close them off from my friendship –to keep far from them in future so they will not have the chance to hurt me again. But that is how marriages, families, close friendships, even churches have been split apart by our inability to love and forgive as Jesus has taught us.
I myself have talked to others about their leaving our Church, and I am always amazed and saddened that what caused the separation was some slight or some disagreement with another member of the congregation.
Jesus is calling me to forgive anybody who wrongs me—no more turning on my automatic cold front or withdrawing my speech, nor even avoiding them like they have the plague!
I remember how Jesus once said: “Grant pardon and you will be pardoned.” He taught us to pray, “….Father forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
By the help of Your grace, Lord, may I be more aware of Your prompting to obey Your instructions in this gospel passage, and to love my enemies.
The gospel reflections for February are by Dawn Comissiong of the Eternal Light Community currently assisting the Sacred Heart, Delaford parish.