Wednesday, April 24, 2013 — Week of 4 Easter
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 960)
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) 49,  (evening)
Wisdom 4:16 – 5:8
Colossians 1:24 – 2:7
This passage in Luke’s gospel is simply incredible. Wonderful stuff! I think it is important to read it not only as a moral exhortation, but also as a theological statement. Jesus tells us how to live within the values and vision of God’s Kingdom which he has inaugurated as Messiah. He tells us how to live as citizens of that Kingdom.
But more than that, we are told to live this way because this is how God is. God loves enemies and does good to those who hate God. God blesses those who curse God and prays for those who abuse God’s Being. God offers the other cheek and does not withhold anything, giving to everyone who begs and asking not from those to whom God gives. God loves those who do not love God. God is generous in the hope that we might be like God — that we might extend the Golden Rule even to our enemies. That we might not judge or condemn; that we might forgive; that we might give extravagantly — because this is the way God is.
The punch line: “For he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” [Marcus Borg makes a strong argument from linguistic analysis and from content that the latter verse would more accurately be translated “Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”]
These are the values of the Kingdom because they describe the character of God. What is God like? God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked; God is merciful; God is compassionate. This is the Ground in which we are planted. This is the Ground of our Being.
Colossians offers us an image of this Kingdom-life growing in us. “Christ in you, the hope of glory… As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
We can imagine ourselves first as the recipients of this grace, compassion and love. God is kind to us even in our ungratefulness and wickedness. We can root our lives in this amazing grace.
Then, secure and grateful, we can live toward others as God has lived toward us.
Jesus extends the Golden Rule — “Do to others as you would have them do to you” — even beyond that to the command “love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.”
We have not been judged or condemned; we can forego judgment. We have been forgiven; we can forgive. We have been given to extravagantly; we can give extravagantly. God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked; we can be kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. God is completely compassionate to us; we can be completely compassionate toward every other human being on the planet.
Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.