Reading the scriptures with a scissor in your hand – Monday, the second week in Lent – Daniel 9:4-10/ Luke 6:36-38

Many Christians live lives that are convenient to their understanding of the faith. They read the scriptures with scissors in their hands cutting off whatever sounds inconvenient to them. This extends to both, the right and the left, those who propagate an exclusive vertical spirituality and those who aggressively support a horizontal one. Christ was clear; Love God AND your neighbour.

Jesus had just chosen his twelve disciples (Luke 6:12-16). He has settled on the plain where a ‘great crowd of his disciples’ and a ‘great multitude’ of people have gathered. Interestingly these are people from Judea and Jerusalem and Tyre and Sidon. Make no mistake these two sets of cities were not bosom buddies. They had a long-standing racial feud but now they are united in their need for healing, troubles and possessions. It is in this context that Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Plain

It is to sworn enemies, now united in their misery, that Jesus teaches the principles of humanity which draw their source from divinity. It is in God’s nature to be merciful and Jesus asks the crowd to be merciful not by their standards but by God’s standards. Mercy prompts us to a Godly life in which we don’t judge each other, condemn one another and learn to forgive those who have even been our traditional enemies.

Let us make one thing clear. Scripture is not given to us for us to conveniently fling into each other’s faces like you have thrown down a trump card. Some may say, “If Christ said you should not judge and condemn” why do Christians judge at all? Christ did not say you can’t make a moral judgment. No one in their right mind would say that a murderer should not be judged. What Christ is telling us is that when we deal with others we should not judge or condemn them as if we know the mind of God for them. The thief who died with Christ won heaven at the ninth hour and it was not a saint who walked into paradise with Christ but a sinner.

The appeal of Jesus is that we are merciful like our heavenly father is merciful. Right off the bat, you will realize that mercy by its very nature is unmerited, yet Christ asks us to show mercy to those whom we may think don’t deserve even a side glance on compassion.

Finally, the last line of today’s reading must be read in its context and not as some pot of gold that will be given to us if we are generous with our money and things. “Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over is not some bumper interest or return that we get for giving a thousand rupees to a street urchin in Lent. It is a promise of mercy and kindness from God who when he sees how we have been merciful will show us the same mercy; in good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Alas for those who thought otherwise!


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