This week’s gospel continues with two more of the “Antitheses” from the Sermon on the Mount” You have heard it said, and eye for an eye; and you have heard it said love your friends and hate your enemies.
And Jesus turns these two things upside down:
Do not take revenge
And love your enemies
And then he takes it just a little bit further: BE PERFECT – JUST AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT! Oh my word!!
After reading this, and the Old Testament reading from Leviticus, I am drawn to reflect on Justice…. So for my final Revelation my working title is “Revealing Strength in Weakness”.
Because justice... and injustice, and the things which make us fizz and boil, and especially, how we respond to them, matter, and are summed up in Jesus' teaching for this week.
I want to explore what the non-violent options are, when really we want to shout and yell and push someone…
The OT reading that might naturally go with this would be from Exodus with the 10 Commandments, but this exhortation to a particular behaviour from Leviticus goes much deeper, much further.
Look after the poor!
Be true to your word!
Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
This passage does, as others passages in the prophets do, and shows us a foretaste of what life with God could really be
It gives us a hint of eternity; an image of perfection
A glimpse of human potential – if we truly lived as God intended... if we truly strove for the perfection that Jesus outlines: going the extra mile; sharing to the extremes; loving the unlovely... living the extraordinary.
Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
19 The Lord told Moses 2 to say to the community of Israel, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
9 “When you harvest your fields, do not cut the grain at the edges of the fields, and do not go back to cut the heads of grain that were left. 10 Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen; leave them for poor people and foreigners. I am the Lord your God.
11 “Do not steal or cheat or lie. 12 Do not make a promise in my name if you do not intend to keep it; that brings disgrace on my name. I am the Lord your God.
13 “Do not rob or take advantage of anyone. Do not hold back the wages of someone you have hired, not even for one night. 14 Do not curse the deaf or put something in front of the blind so as to make them stumble over it. Obey me; I am the Lord your God.
15 “Be honest and just when you make decisions in legal cases; do not show favouritism to the poor or fear the rich.16 Do not spread lies about anyone, and when someone is on trial for his life, speak out if your testimony can help him. I am the Lord.
17 “Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. 18 Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbours as you love yourself. I am the Lord.
Matthew 5: 38-4838 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40 And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. 42 When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. 46 Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! 47 And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! 48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.