Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Lectionary Cycle C
Luk 6:27-38 "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
Jesus seeks to establish a culture diametrically opposed to the prevailing norms of his society. His was a world where the strong ruled the weak, the angry cursed the timid, and the powerful took whatever they could from the powerless. Oh ... why does this sound so familiar? Perhaps because while technology might have changed, human nature is driven by the same, sinful, greedy, self-interested impulse from generation to generation.
Jesus’ teaching invites every generation to become counter-cultural. Sociologists define this as “any group of people whose beliefs, values, styles, and attitudes differ from that of the prevailing culture”. Here is the invitation to refuse the angry, selfish values of our culture, and to choose to be people who stand for a higher truth. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard argues that change begins when there is just one person who is courageous enough to become the “lonely individual in the crowd”.
Lent can become the moment when we choose to give up old values. Perhaps this Sunday in Lent you and I can choose to take on new values..... even if there are only one or two of us who are courageous enough to put them into practice. Let us become the Jesus culture in our society.