February 20, 2022
by David Crawford
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 81

1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Luke 6:27-38

Praying Lent

Choosing Lent, Acting Lent

An Audio Conversation on the First Four Days of Lent - 23 min. - Text Transcript

Cooking Lent

In today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, the middle portion of the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus instructs his disciples to abandon a worldview that many would consider practical and reasonable, and instead adopt one that society would consider radically impractical and foolish.  Imagine yourself listening to Jesus as He addressed His disciples and other assembled folks.  If you are like me, your mind would probably still be struggling to process the lists of blessings and woes (Luke 6:20-26, which we read last Sunday) when you hear Him say something about loving enemies, followed by several other instructions and concepts that are challenging, to say the least, and (according to conventional, worldly thinking) ridiculous.  Don’t fight back (or run away or protect yourself), but make it easier for someone to hit me again?  Lend and don’t expect repayment?  Stop judging?  Do I have to do all of the things Jesus outlined?  Even if I wanted to, how can I?

At first reading, it may appear that Jesus is merely giving a series of instructions about how to act in various situations, and that list of instructions can be overwhelming.  It helps me to recognize in Jesus’ sermon a call to change perspectives.  In essence, he is saying, “Stop letting secular societal standards determine your values and how you approach life.  Look at things from My point of view.”  To see from His perspective, I need to move from my traditional vantage point to one that is closer to where Christ would have me be, and I need to use a lens that allows me to see – others, myself, events – as Christ would have me see.  I need to love as Christ has loved me – the Alleluia verse is crucial here – knowing that when I obey that commandment, it becomes much easier to love my enemies, to do good things for hateful people, to pray for those who mistreat me, and so on.  In fact, all of what we read today from the Gospel of Luke falls under this commandment.

That is not all, though.  At the end of the first paragraph, I asked, “How can I do this?”  The answer is, I can’t, at least not on my own.  God can, so I must be open to the Holy Spirit working to change me.  The Apostle Paul’s words from Romans 12:2 describe this transformation so well.  I like how the Good News Translation puts it: “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.”

Loving God, you are kind and merciful.  Lead us away from the temptations to judge and condemn so that we, too, may be kind, merciful and forgiving.  Transform us so that we love as Christ loves.

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