‘Treat others as you would like them to treat you’
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
In this reading a radical new teaching is given to all the disciples of Jesus, that we should love our enemies. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
27 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. 31 Treat others as you would like them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. 35 Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
36 ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. 37 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. 38 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.’
Other readings: 1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23 Psalm 102 (103) 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
We continue reading from Luke’s collection of the teaching of Jesus known as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’. The essence of this reading is found in verses 27 and 28. There is a radical new teaching here given to all the disciples of Jesus, that we should love our enemies. This teaching is found in Matthew and Luke, in their respective collections of Jesus’ teaching, and challenges the teaching of Jesus’ contemporaries. This teaching is elaborated in the following verses, and repeated in verse 35. We are called to be like God, because we are children of God.
Throughout Luke’s gospel Jesus reveals the compassion of God, and the call is for us to ‘be compassionate as God is compassionate’. These are among the most difficult words of Jesus found anywhere in the four canonical gospels. The Christian is not called to ‘do to others what you would want them to do to you’, but, in a far more demanding manner, to ‘do as God does’.
To what extent do I live the gospel command to ‘love your enemies’?
Is compassion a major factor in my dealings with others?
Let us pray that we may truly imitate the love of Christ.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy