THE Lord said, "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."
Dear brothers and sisters, my schedule has finally lightened enough for me to return giving some notes on the upcoming Sunday's readings. As you can see, the Gospel lesson for this Sunday is quite short, yet seriously profound. We would not expect anything else when we are given the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The very first sentence is enough of an advice for us to try to follow our whole life. "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Jesus often compares how we should act towards others with how we wish others acted towards us. For example, "love your neighbor as yourself." Why? What is He trying to tell us here? I think, the point is that, all things considered equal, we tend to put ourselves ahead of others, whoever these "others" may be. Deep down we are rather selfish creatures. Christ is not saying, "Do not like yourself," rather, "Fine, love yourself, but also love others with the same love." No matter our social status, no matter our position in the world, no matter our views and convictions, we are capable of loving and treating others and we would like them to love and treat us. It may not be easy, but it is possible. It may not be easy, but this is the Christian way.
Why should we do to others as we would have them do to us? The Lord provides the answer - because doing anything else is not special and is not worth anything. If we love those who definitely love us, like our spouse or children or friends, can we even be sure that we love them? Love needs to be tested. Love requires effort. If we never test our love, how do we know that we even have it?
Same thing with doing something good for others and lending money or time. If we do something, anything, because we expect the same or similar in return, then we are no better than sinners, hypocrites. Have you ever given a present to someone and then expected them to do the same in return? Why should they? What if they can't? Christ teaches us to do or give out of the goodness of our heart and for His glory, and for no other reason because sinners and hypocrites are the ones who expect reciprocity.
Let us practice being good for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest