Breakfast with the Word Thursday 23rd Week Ordinary Time of the Year
When I opened today’s readings I remembered a life-changing advice a priest gave us in one of the spiritual retreats we had when we were still in college or secondary school.
The priest narrated how his brother helped a friend to get a job in the same company he is working for. He did that because of how close they were at that time. But when the so-called friend got the job, he blackmailed the brother of the priest who helped him to the extent that he lost his job.
Then the brother went to his brother who is the priest to narrate his ordeals and also how he planned for revenge. The priest advised him not to seek revenge but to leave everything in the hands of God and focus.
His brother refused and insisted that he must get his pound of flesh. After a series of advice from the priest, the priest asked him “are you a child of God? He said yes. The priest asked “if you are a child of God, will God tell you to seek revenge? He said maybe.
The priest asked him again ‘is there any place in the bible God says you have to pay back evil for evil?’, he said no. Then the priest told him “go and do what God expects from you. He said he will but in this case, he will never forgive.
Then the priest told him “forgive and do good to others not because of who they are, but because of who you are. You said you are a child of God, show who you are”.
This advice has been life-changing advice for me. Doing good to others is our identity. We cannot but be good. This is what separates every child of God from that of the world.
In today’s gospel, Jesus expects us to love and do good to those who are not our friends. Therefore, doing good to others includes your friends and your enemies.
By doing this we show the character of the Father who allows both the good and the bad to enjoy his goodness. In essence, doing good to others is our vocation, our call and our identity.
In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus says “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If we are sons of God, doing good to others is not optional.
Doing Good involves Everyone.
In the gospel, Jesus says ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what reward can you expect?”.
In essence, Jesus wants us to live like Him, who did not fight or attack the Pharisees despite their evil plans against Him. He wants us to be like Him, who fed the crowd without separating the jew from the gentiles or feeding only those who believe in Him.
In feeding the crowd, Jesus fed both believers and unbelievers. Therefore, Jesus wants us to see the act of doing good as our identity. This doing good is for all and sundry. Jesus wants us to be like Him who healed every person that came to Him.
He does not reject any because He is a believer or pagan. Once they come to Him, He is always there for them. Therefore, what we owe our enemies and those who do not love us is not revenge or quarrel or bearing grudges. What we owe them is nothing but love and prayers.
He says “ If you love those who love you, what reward can you expect?”. By this statement, Jesus affirms that there is a reward awaiting us if we do good even to those who do not deserve our goodness.
The Greek word that Luke uses today for enemies is “ἐχθροὺς” echthrous which means enemy, opposer, challenger, someone against, not good for you. Hence, they are those who do not want anything good to happen to you.
They are people who always oppose what you do. The enemy is that person who always challenges you and makes sure he brings you down.
The enemies are simply people who are against whatever you do. They are not happy to see you succeed. They are those who work behind the scenes to make you fail. Some of them may also pose as friends but play the role of the enemy. These are the kind of people Jesus says we should love. Do you see how this looks impossible?
Therefore, if we follow the teachings of Jesus from our human inclinations, we can see it as something impossible to accept.
But Jesus wants us to prove that we are truly sons of the father. Anybody can repay evil with evil but God’s children repay with goodness.
Doing good to others is what separates us from the world. In essence, God wants His children to live like Him. We have to live only with love and overcome evil with goodness.
There are indeed people who have done you wrong and treated you badly. This makes you angry and pushes you to seek revenge. It is normal to feel this way.
We have also to note that if God is to punish us for every single thing we do, then we will suffer greatly.
Therefore, He wants us to do to others what He does to us despite our unworthiness. Therefore doing good to others is not because of who they are only but who you are as a Christian and child of God. We have to know this.
How to Do these.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us the way to do this. He says ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.
1 Peter 3: 9 says “do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this, God calls you, so that you may inherit a blessing”.
May God help us to live as Christians. May He bring peace in broken homes and may He be with You. Amen.