Last week we heard teaching from Jesus in Luke’s gospel which challenged the normal way of looking at things when he told his disciples that the poor, the hungry and those who wept were happy or blessed, but that the rich and well fed were not going to be happy. Jesus continues this radical message in this week’s gospel in what is called the Sermon on the Plain, so named because it is preached after Jesus has come down the mountain. It contains similar material to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel.
Jesus asks us to take forgiveness as far as we possibly can: we are to love our enemies; offer the other cheek to someone who has struck us; offer more to someone who has stolen from us; lend without any hope of return. It is almost as if Jesus is trying to goad his audience when he says that we should not expect any congratulations for loving those who also love us, or doing someone a favour, knowing it will be returned.
It might be tempting to dismiss Jesus’ teaching as impractical – surely he can’t expect us to be robbed or beaten and just do nothing about it – but then we picture Jesus offering no resistance to those who assaulted him during his passion and forgiving those who were responsible for putting him to death. Forgiving is not always easy and might be painful for us. We feel the urge to retaliate, to seek for punishment. But Jesus calls to heal and unite not to condemn and divide.
There is no limit to God’s forgiveness and love for us. We get precious insight into this when we ourselves forgive others, when we see perhaps the relief on someone’ face when they know that we are prepared to forget and move on.
Keep pouring in love and we will find love !