Going beyond what is expected – Seriously?
It is quite clear what values are paramount in our world today: get the most out of everything, have a great, lucrative career, look out for number 1, always come out on top no matter what, the more you have the greater you are, riches and social standing are a sign that you are doing things right, even of God’s favour.
The Word of God for this weekend gives us quite the opposite view. We are first presented with David, who refuses to take revenge against King Saul even when Saul is totally defenseless; it is the perfect opportunity for David to be free of his oppressor. David chooses to be just, respectful and forgiving in the face of Saul’s determination to kill David.
In the gospel, Jesus challenges us to forgive, to be generous, to give even when it hurts, to do good to those who hate us, etc. Not a recipe for success according to the world’s standards. Really, who would think any of those things are reasonable? Unfortunately, even many who would describe themselves as faithful Christians would not fully subscribe to Jesus’ words. It is good enough to pray, to try to share some of our time and treasure with the less fortunate, to advocate for the rights of others and then enjoy the good things in our lives.
Jesus challenges each one of us who call ourselves disciples to go beyond, to truly live the fullness of God’s love, compassion, mercy and generosity in our daily lives. But, is that even remotely possible? We have countless role models in the officially recognized saints of the church as well as the holy women and men we have encountered in our lives. They show us that not only is it possible, but it is the way to live fully as God’s beloved.
The world today needs witnesses of God’s love, witnesses who seek to live Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel passage. This is the challenge for every Christian disciple, to be witnesses in our daily lives. For some there is also the challenge to go beyond and to dedicate one’s whole life to service as a religious or priest. We might think that this is going beyond what is expected as Christians, but if we listen to Jesus’ words today, we realize that no call is beyond what is expected; all are simply different aspects of the same call to be witnesses and to live holy lives. Jesus reminds us that this is not impossible and that we will be richly gifted in our response – “give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)
By Richard Beaudette, OMI