Today is the major feast of All Saints’ Day where we honor, perhaps not surprisingly, all of the saints. The gospel passage for today comes from Luke 6:20-31, Luke’s version of the beatitudes. Luke adds in the “Woe be’s” along with the “Blessed be’s,” but it is the last several verses of this passage that struck me as I was reading them earlier this week:
“27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.'”
In particular it was the verbs in verses 27 and 28 that hit me: love, do good, bless, pray. These are all things that I think, if we are honest, we would hope that we do in our daily lives. Find ways that we love someone/something…do good where we can…be a blessing for someone (or acknowledge when we are blessed)…and pray to God. And, those may be all that we can muster on some days for all of the “stuff” that life throws at us. In short, just doing those things seems like a full day’s work.
But, we cannot ignore the words that Jesus says after each of those action verbs: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Now what seemed like a full day’s work a moment ago seems like an incredible task, even a seemingly impossible task. Yet, that’s exactly what Jesus commands us to undertake: the incredible and the seemingly impossible. For what Jesus describes is two-fold: how God in Christ loves us, and what the kingdom of God looks like in the here and now.
It would seem that Jesus is commanding us to be more than we are capable of being. However in that stretch to be more than we are–maybe even more than we think we can ever become–we are growing more fully into the life of Christ. If you look at the example of Jesus’ life you can see how he lived into these four precepts. And, when we try to live into those four simple verbs–and direct their actions to the described situations, we are furthering the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God.