Reflecting on the Gospel reading Lk. 6:31-36.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Every time I prepare a sermon, I try to find some practical points from the Gospel reading. Sometimes I find them, sometimes I don’t. There are days that I have absolutely no idea what to say. The Scripture reading just doesn’t speak to me, I fail to see what can be expounded.
But then there are Sundays, like today, where the Gospel reading is so straightforward it seems that I need to add nothing more. If fact, anything I would try to add, might only distort it.
There are people who say that Bible is as simple as it gets. Basically, what it says is what God wants us to know and to do. Then there are people who say that everything in the Bible has a much deeper meaning, nothing should be taken at its face value.
Both points are valid. Sometimes we are given a direct advice on what a Christian life looks like. But then there are places where we have to look longer and harder, in order to see the true meaning. Usually we have to get rid of all sorts of distractions, pray, focus on Christ, and then we might find the meaning.
But today, today Christ speaks to us in plain language. “Do to other people as you wish they would do to you.” Simple enough, right? If I want others to treat me nice, I should start treating others the same way. What Christ tells us, in many cases, is common sense. A common sense that is usually ignored today. This is common sense because even those who don’t believe in God understand that this is true.
But there is an important point to be made – if I want to be respected, I should take the first step. I should respect others first.
But Christ continues. Don’t do good to others simply in the hope of getting the same. Do good for the sake of doing good. If in return we get the same treatment – glory to God. If not – glory to God! We did our part.
In other words – there is no guarantee that me being nice to others will lead to others being nice to me. I gain nothing by loving those who love me. But if I learn to show love to other people, especially someone I dislike, then I might gain another friend.
If I do something for the sole purpose of others owing me, then I am selfish and arrogant person. I am no better than the godless sinners. As Jesus says in today’s reading – even sinners love those who love them, even sinners respect to those who respect to them, even sinners lend money to those who would repay them.
So how do we become better than sinners? How do we get out of this loop of self-satisfaction?
If there is someone I absolutely dislike and can’t stand, and I make no secret of it before that person, then at the very least I should refrain from disliking him in private, especially at home.
Recently I was at an event. I was at a table with about 7 or 8 other people. Among them were a mother and a son. The son was about college age, give or take. They were having a conversation. It’s hard to have a private conversation with 6 other people at your table. And I don’t think they meant it to be a private conversation.
So I overheard them talking about a person I know. They were not simply talking, they were gossiping. Disturbing, nasty gossip. And it seemed quite natural to them. It looked like a regular conversation.
You know what this means? This means that the father and mother do the same thing at home, and the son has learned from them. Kids learn by imitating their parents and other grownups. If they see us gossiping, or fighting, or hating other people, they will grow up doing the same thing.
That’s why learning to respect others starts with me, with what I do even before I see them, how I think about them, how I talk about them at home.
That’s why it is so important to read the Bible with the kids or grandkids, to tell them about Christ, to pray with them. They won’t learn it here in church. They come here, what, once a week? At best? The church, Sunday school, Divine services – all of this is meant as a supplement to what is going on at home.
The commandment to love your enemy is very hard. But it’s not impossible, it takes effort. The least we can do is not slander them because our kids will pick it up.
Just like our children imitate us, we, being the sons and daughters of Christ, imitate Him. Don’t look at the Bible like a list of things we have to do. God didn’t simply give this list to us and said, “Ok, do this and I’ll see you in heaven.” He fulfilled every commandment Himself.
For example, what did Christ do for us? He died. He suffered and He died. But He didn’t do this with the expectation that we would have to die for Him. Maybe some us will, but Christ died because His love for us is boundless. God’s love for us exceeds our love for Him. He knows that, and He doesn’t expect the same from us.
If I can’t die for Christ, can I at least focus my everyday life on Him? Can Christ be the reason I wake up every day, not just on Sundays? Can I spend 10 minutes every day reading the Bible to my kids and teach them to pray? Can I respect others without the selfish expectation of others respecting me?
May we learn to be loving as our Father in Heaven is loving to us.