Friday, September 12, 2014

The Gospel Is The Most Radical Thing Of All

In the commemoration of the attacks of 9-11 yesterday, in the pious invocations that came to me over the filter of the media, I didn't hear this*, the hardest of all hard teachings of the man who was so often invoked yesterday.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
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.”

Luke 6:27-32

I would guess that every, single Christian who has ever lived, even the best of them has found it impossible to live up to this standard.   We all fall short of this standard but the closer we could get to it the closer the world would come to the most radical of all possible political ideals and surpass those.   There is nothing I know about that comes close to the radical content of this message that completely rejects pragmatism and the cynical view of human life as transactions in a crooked market place.   There is no Marx or other secular radical whose vision comes close and none whose program is as likely to really change things for the better.   The others are just another form of transaction, not removing life from that muck and mire.

* Though I would have if I'd gone to mass, as, by chance, it was the gospel reading for yesterday.  Curious to hear what a priest might have to say about it, I listened to this recording of yesterday's mass on Catholic TV.   The excellent homily begins at about  8:30.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I was vaguely tired by the references to the 13th anniversary of a criminal act.

    Now I think I know why. Closer, anyway.