Radical love – Seventh Sunday in ordinary time  – Lk 6:27-38

The reading of today is a continuation of the ‘sermon on the plain’ which is so called because some of the saying of Jesus also found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, is found here. What is most definitely different from Matthew’s Gospel is the setting; Jesus does not deliver the sermon on a mount but “has come down with them to a level place” 6:17 and hence is called the ‘sermon on the plain.’

One needs to keep in mind that when Luke writes the Gospel his perspective of an ‘all inclusive’ Jesus shines forth constantly and within this perspective are special focus groups like the poor.  Jesus proclaimed that membership in the “poor of God “was not restricted to an exclusive group. For Luke, those who accept and confess that God’s kingdom is brought about by Jesus on behalf of the “poor of God” or the anawim (Hebrew for the poor) are members of the kingdom.

It is for this reason that today’s Gospel begins with the words, “but I say to you who listen”. It is to the would be disciples who are willing to listen that these words are addressed. It is these disciples who will face persecution as a consequence of their choice to stand with Jesus and His kingdom. The response of the disciple must be radical so that those who see the disciple’s response of love in the face of violence are left amazed. Being slapped in the face or stripped naked flies in the face of the natural human tendency to place self-protection first. It is for this reason that Luke introduces the theme of love of enemies here and the same theme will pervade this Gospel in several stories dealing with the Samaritans who were the enemies of the Jews.

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