The Gospel set for Holy Communion today is Luke 6:27-38
‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…’
Jesus’ words are powerful. They call us to honest self-awareness, to recognise that when we love only those who love us, those who serve our best interests and centre us in the story we tell, we are no different from the people we consider to be beyond the pale.
But these are words of conviction, not condemnation. When Jesus declares, Love your enemies—those whom you cannot stand alongside, or be counted with—he is not setting a bar against which God judges us for not being able to attain a certain standard. This is the Word of God, become flesh. This is the Word that declared, “Let there be light.” And there was light. And God saw that the light was good.
This is the Word that declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” We have been conditioned to hear this as an injunction, but, while it does set parameters (as the sea sets parameters for the great sea creatures it teems with) these words are, primarily, an act of creation, a release, a setting free to exist. You—personally, and as a community of faith trusting in the Word—shall love. You shall—God declares it into being—love. You shall love—this is what we are set free to bring to the world. And that love shall be whole, for, being awakened to life by that Word, we ‘fill the earth’ that is ourselves, the earth-ling, the hu-mus/man, expanding through our heart and soul and mind and strength.
And, yes, this is a work in progress. But it is upheld, underpinned, sustained by the Word: Love.