Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany February 23, 2014
The highest love
When Jesus asks, “Will you receive my love to be forgiven and live eternally?” we say, “Yes!” and throw open our arms to receive him into our hearts. It’s easy to receive love and kindness, but what about meanness and hurt? How do you react when someone “strikes” you with a thoughtless or hurtful comment? Jesus teaches us not to resist an evil person: if they hit one cheek, offer the other; when you are sued, also give your shirt and coat. Take those open arms and embrace your enemy with the love Jesus gave you!
Back in high school I remember how difficult the pole vault was. I never was able to get far enough off the ground; so I gave up and became a runner. If this Gospel lesson sets the bar too high, we might run away. Accepting one who strikes us instead of seeking retribution? Loving an enemy? How can we do that?
Sometimes the all-forgiving love Jesus teaches seems human-ly impossible. But Jesus has not left us without a “pole” to make it over this high bar! He has given us the faith to ask for guidance or gifts that will allow us to love so highly. He has given us the Spirit who leads us. A strong faith and the leading of the Spirit form the foundation from which we can make this leap of faith. A vital and growing relationship with Jesus allows us to live out this higher standard of his love. With Christ in us, we forgive instead of demanding retribution; we love those who cannot yet love us. With Christ living in us and throughout our faith communities, his love will carry us over the highest hurdle!
Tony Hayworth, pastor, Grace Moravian Church, Mount Airy, North Carolina