Reflection for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – February 24, 2019
It is a phrase that we have heard repeated since childhood—treat others as you want to be treated. Jesus highlights the Golden Rule for his disciples in this weekend’s Gospel, but his words are not simply a plea to be nice to people regardless of the situation. The Golden Rule involves a complete reversal of our pattern of thinking, speaking, and acting. Jesus invites us to overhaul our way of being in the world in relation to others so that we are no longer the center of attention. Far from an easy task, to treat others as we want to be treated means to think well of them, to speak well of them, and to act well toward them just as we want to receive similar encouraging thoughts, words, and actions, ones that build up instead of tear down. In a world where people so readily pick sides over issues like economic policy, the environment, immigration, the right to life, and the dignity of marriage, it becomes all too easy to align ourselves only with those who think, speak, and act like us. People outside our opinion camp become the enemy, the object of mistrust or even hatred. Yet Jesus tells us to stop criticizing them and opt for understanding. Stop judging them and opt for mercy. Stop demonizing them and opt for welcome. What can we do to love our enemies this week, to choose communion over conflict? What can we do love others as we want to be loved?
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…. 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’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in God’s justice, which is more than liberty.
There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the Head.
For the love of God is broader than the measures of our mind,
and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple, we should take him at his word,
and our lives would be thanksgiving for the goodness of our Lord.