Seventh Sunday of Epiphany
Love Your Enemies; Do Good to Those Who Hate You
Luke 6: 27 - 38
Matthew 5: 38 - 48
Matthew 7: 12a
In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites were told to follow the rule of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," which meant that there was to be no retaliation, no escalation into all-out war: vengeance could be undertaken by God alone.
Jesus took Christian belief to a new and empowering view of our relationship to God - he tells us not only to understand or to forgive our enemies, but actively to love them, and even more difficult, to do good to them.
Matthew states this idea most firmly: where is the challenge in returning good only to those who have already been good to us?
This passage is often used by the teachers of nonviolence, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who stood passively firm in the face of ignorance and violence, but Jesus takes us one step further, telling us to love our enemies actively.
Jesus asks us some hard questions about living lives of gratitude and kindness. Do we honestly live out our answers?
1. How does Jesus ask us to treat our enemies?
[Jesus says, "Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you."]
2. How should we treat other people?
[We should treat other people the way we want to be treated.]
3. What does Jesus ask us to do?
[Jesus asks us to love and to give without expecting anything in return.]
4. Who does Jesus promise us that we will be?
[Jesus promises that we will be the
true children of God in heaven. ]
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