12 September, Thursday of the 23rd Week
Col 3:12ff. As God’s chosen ones, clothe yourselves with mercy, meekness and patience.
Luke 6:27ff. Be compassionate, like your Father in heaven. Give with generosity.
First Reading: Colossians 3:12-17
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Jesus said to them: “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. RuleDo 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.”
The ideals set for us in the Bible often seem extreme. In Colossians the entire list of goals set by St Paul relies on his opening statement of who we really are, “Because you are God’s chosen ones.” If that is who we are, then we should act accordingly. The overall goal of love is not beyond our nature as “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” God’s choice has drawn us into the life of Jesus, as members of his body, so that inspiration and grace flow through us like breath or like blood. We inhale our Lord’s responses to life like air through our nostrils. Before we act in any circumstance, Christ is already alive within us. This is the Pauline vision, on which he bases his appeals for love, kindness, patience, humility.
This also is the spirit in today’s Gospel passage, where Jesus asks his followers to “bless those who curse you,” to “turn the other cheek,” and – the most difficult of all – to “love your enemy.” These statements reflect the supreme law of Christian life. Here the ideals are grounded in the idea that because we are formed in the image of God, our responses to life should mirror those of God our Father. Hence Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” He insists that this is the high road to sharing in the life of God: “Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High.”