MESSAGE: Seventh Sunday After Epiphany – C – 20 February 2022
THEMES: Resurrection Living
While it may not seem like it, the theme running through the Lectionary this week could be viewed as ‘resurrection living.’
The Corinthians reading actually speaks of resurrection, while the others speak of living in ways that bring life both to others and to ourselves without using the word ‘resurrection’.
The Gospel reading from Luke speaks of loving enemies, giving generously, lending without asking for repayment, and refusing to judge others.
These are all ways of living that bring life to others, and that also set us free from the forces of death, and bring us a deeper, more vibrant life.
The Old Testament reading, in which Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them, is a wonderful illustration of Jesus’ teaching – freedom from vengeance and bitterness for Joseph, and new life for his brothers.
We so often think of resurrection either as an event that happened long ago or one that is yet to happen at the end of time.
But whether we project resurrection into the past or the future, we seldom consider it as a lived reality now.
We do not have to wait for some future judgement to experience resurrection.
God offers us life, renewal, recreation, restoration, and liberation right here and right now.
Whenever we embrace the values and priorities of God’s Reign, and seek to bring life to those around us, we are living the reality called resurrection, because when we do that, the forces of death are conquered and life triumphs.
This week we are invited to enter into a deeper experience of resurrection right now.
These verses continue Jesus’ teaching that put us hearers on a level plain/playing field (verse 17) with all those to whom Jesus once spoke: the twelve, the crowd of disciples and the “multitude” from all over the area. We all get to hear Jesus open such a different world view from our own that it can leave us gasping.
“But” – “Luke… wants to make clear that Christian love is not just a sentiment or a feeling, but also an attitude leading to concrete action.”
The whole passage begins with a “but,” which means you must read it through the lens of the blessings and woes AND read the blessings and woes through the lens of this passage.
Verses 27 and 28 can be the whole sermon. To put only this into practice can transform lives, families, workplaces, churches, nations.
Verses 32-37 What does love look like?
At the centre of Jesus’ teaching in today’s reading is what has become known as the ‘golden rule’ – treat others the way you want to be treated.
But actually, Jesus invites us to go even further than that.
Rather than following the practice of the society around us, which is to love and serve those who offer love and service back to us, Jesus calls us to love our enemies, and do good to those who treat us badly.
Treating others well is not dependent on them treating us as we want to be treated.
It is about treating people well regardless of how they treat us.
This may seem naïve and impractical in our world, but if we desire to break cycles of hatred, division, violence, and retribution, we can choose no other way.
Jesus did not ask for us to live differently from how he lived.
He didn’t just teach this way of living, he put it into practice for himself.
It did not mean that he did not confront evil when he encountered it.
Love meant being willing to challenge corruption, injustice, and violence.
But it also means that the door is always open for reconciliation, and forgiveness is always offered, even when it seems foolish.
How can you live more deeply into this resurrection-bringing life that Jesus calls us to today?
One of the most helpful and transforming spiritual practices is to read the Scriptures prayerfully and reflectively, reading not for content, but to hear the whisper of the Spirit deep in our hearts. Use today’s reading, going through it as many times as you can, as the basis for this prayerful practice of Scripture reading