Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
Gospel for the 7th Sunday of Orcinary Time
We are probably all familiar with a visceral urge for revenge on those who have hurt us, with a passion to recover what we have lost, and the desire for victory and saved from and raised above our enemies. This is how humankind often is.
But it is not what humankind was made for, nor is what we are destined for. If we would have victory; if we would triumph then we must become more like God, and live and love like him: merciful, compassionate, healing the hurts of others, not revelling in them or imposing them.
Image. Mercy. St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.