This is paradigm shift that would turn their world upside down and inside out! Love your enemies? Imagine being hearers of that for the very first time...it must have sounded like Jesus had “lost it”. How could he expect that his disciples would love their enemies and pray for those who mistreated them? And yet this is what he was asking of them...and of us! Jesus knows that love has the power to change an individual, that love is transformative. Jesus knew that in loving our enemies we would be transformed and being loved holds the power to transform as well.
And it seems to just keep getting tougher...Jesus calls us to be merciful as God is merciful! Now he wants his disciples “to be like God”! How are we supposed to be able to live up to that challenge? It can overwhelm us and lead us to feel rather defeated.
How is all of this humanly possible! It seems too much! God’s goodness and mercy is so great, how can any human act be as good and merciful as an act of God? Some theologians say that God’s goodness and mercy comes down to “generosity” -- a generosity so grand that it created all known reality. Our theology sees the incarnation as a self-giving act of God, to and for the sake of the world. And Jesus’ death as his resurrection are both acts of “Divine generosity”, as is our salvation.
So then this “generosity”, this “out pouring” of God’s self into the world empowers us, fills us, emboldens us and ultimately changes us to become more generous, less violent, less bent on getting more and more for ourselves, into being kind and loving to “the other”. So we work for racial justice and for ways in which our society makes room for the marginalized and for the immigrant and the refugee, rather than looking for ways to keep them out.
This spirit of generosity calls us to let go of racist, misogynist, and other bigoted attitudes towards others and to work for true justice and peace in our homes, our communities, our nation and in our world. Perhaps this generosity of spirit grows from first finding our own gratitude for being loved so deeply and passionately by God, just as we are. And from that gratitude then grows our ability to be generous and merciful towards “the other”, who in truth, is my sister, my brother.
So, let us ask ourselves: for what am I grateful for in my life? To whom will I be generous and merciful towards this week?