In a world familiar with occupation and military control by the Roman empire, the words of the Gospel of Luke are quite striking, even revolutionary. Roman authorities demand obedience and order. The concept of Pax Romana (Roman Peace) is not attained through spiritual pleadings of clergy but most often through violence. Those who dissent with the rulers of this world are eliminated. After all, this is the world that develops the technique of crucifixion, which serves not just to extinguish an individual threat but to intimidate all who witnessed the execution. Crucifixion demands obedience and demands notice of any revolt.
Luke captures the essence of Jesus in his clear instructions for those who wish to proclaim another world or another empire. Today’s reading demonstrates an alternative to the harsh reality of living under occupation. Rather than entering into a mode of warring violence, which surely would bring one’s death from Roman legions, do the opposite. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” the Gospel pleads. Not only will this preserve our physical life but it also will demonstrate the true revolution of the movement whose foundation is the One that we have come to call the Son of God, Jesus. By following this way of nonviolence and true peace, we continue to build the new world ruled by the values of a holy and loving God, not by the sword. The movement that surrounds Jesus is about this kind of love, and it is a threat to those who control their world by force.
O God, we pray for those across the world searching for peace. We pray for the innocent who have suffered and for the refugees who have sought shelter. May we assist in making the world a place where violence in all its forms ends. Amen.
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt had felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses it for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land on which you live now and the land on which you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies as an individual? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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