February 24, 2019 — Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel taken from the sixth chapter of Luke, Jesus offers a very challenging, seemingly impossible approach to daily life. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak do not withhold even your tunic.” It makes one want to say, “Seriously, Lord?” And He doesn’t stop there. Jesus adds, “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.”
It seems so unfair! Unless, that is, we look at this way of life from a stewardship point of view. Then, not only does it seem doable (though challenging), it actually makes perfect sense. A steward understands clearly that all he has and all that he is — his very life — is a gift from God given to him from an unfathomable abundance of love. This changes everything! This means “my” cloak, “my” tunic, “my” money and time — all of it ultimately belongs to God. He has entrusted these things to each of us in love to use for His purposes and His glory.
Does this mean we are to be passive “doormats” to anyone who wants to take advantage of us? Certainly not. Jesus explains this in the next verse of this passage when He says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” As the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus understands human nature well. He knows that we naturally desire only good and nothing bad for ourselves. And there is nothing wrong with loving oneself since God loves us and has made us in His own image and likeness. Jesus is simply asking that we also approach others, and the sharing of our gifts, with this same attitude. He is giving us a definition here of real love, a steward’s love!
In fact, Jesus tells us that anything short of this is not love at all. “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.”
We are made for much higher than that. Jesus says instead, “Love your enemies and do good to them and lend expecting nothing back.” That is true greatness in God’s view. When we love like that, He promises our “reward in heaven will be great.” A stewardship way of life is a life worth living because it is modeled after nothing less than our Most High God.
And if that is still not incentive enough to embrace this way of life, Jesus gives us one more bit of loving motivation. “Give and gifts will be given to you: a good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Our wonderful God and Father simply will not be outdone in love. Be generous with your gifts — with your life — and just watch what He will do!