Reconciliation Lectionary: Luke 6:31-38

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe Golden Rule, Luke-style:

Do to others
as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together,
shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

The text in green (vv 36-38) strikes me as an ideal shortened version to use for form I. Or for a communal liturgy.

Luke’s narrative here follows Matthew 7, in which Jesus is giving his Sermon on the Mount. But there are differences in the text, two of which struck me and may be important for one preaching or reflecting.

First, the Golden Rule prefaces the Lord’s teaching on love and mercy. On the Mount, it is the conclusion of the teaching. For Christians well-versed in this maxim, it seems right that we start with it, then reflect on where it might lead us in our life’s practice of the faith.

Second, this flowery description of God’s gifts is unique to Luke’s Gospel. Did Luke remember and the others forget? Who knows? That’s not important. What seems important to me is that God’s grace flows in abundance–literally–for those who imitate the Lord and practice mercy.

For an individual penitent, this might mean having mercy on herself or himself. For a person of difficulty, it might mean the difficult task of having mercy on another person. Even approaching that person to apologize if indeed we have done any wrong.

The disciple of Jesus, the believer, is charged with imitating God. The Almighty has no expectation of payment from us. God gives us a choice. Cooperate with grace, or not. The cooperation is partly to imitate. If God forgives, we can also. If God forgives small sins, so can we. If great sins, likewise.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” can get tired, old in our minds, and overlooked. But I think it bears repeated reflection. Rare is the disciple who has mastered this teaching thoroughly. And until we do, why not return to it regularly?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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