Sunday, we ran smack into one of Jesus’ most difficult discipleship expectations: “Turn the other cheek.” Added to that, he asks us to pray for our enemies, not to seek revenge, give money to everyone who begs —the list just keeps on growing. All of it is difficult and some of it, for a lot of us, is impossible. Why does Jesus keep heaping these demands upon us? Are his expectations too high? Is he out of touch with the world we live in? Doesn’t he understand the complexities of this world, its demand for vengeance and blame, and brute strength?
Yes, he does. He does have high expectations because he is willing to die for us. That’s how highly he thinks of us – that we’re worth his agony and sacrifice. He is asking us to persist in living on the higher ground, listening to our better angels, leading our friends and family, co-workers and neighbors and fellow church members to a place of forgiveness, gentleness, understanding and generosity. We cannot always accomplish this, but we’re being asked to persist in TRYING to accomplish these attributes as a way of life. We have nothing to gain by holding onto grudges, being unforgiving, blaming or name calling. Jesus knows we are children of God. We are marked by the cross of Christ forever. He knows we are equipped with the Holy Spirit and the 10 Commandments. He knows we can live up to the hard work of making peace with our past, with those who have hurt us, and try to prayerfully accompany those who upset or frighten us the most. Let us begin anew each day to persist in living out our baptismal promise.
- Pray for the strength to be forgiving.
- Let things pass.
- Use words thoughtfully.
- Give, give, give, share, share, share.
- Use “we” instead of “they.”
- Be merciful, grateful and non-judgmental just as we hope people will be towards us.