7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap" (Lk 6: 27-38).
When reflecting on this text from Luke's gospel, I pondered what I should give. Luke does not say give money, houses, clothes, or anything with material value to receive an enormous blessing from heaven onto my lap. And yet, repeatedly, I have heard ministers and Christians quote this passage when talking about money. Some Christians dream of giving money to someone or a charitable organization and then expect God to reward their giving. They practice the law of reciprocity, believing that God will provide them with a boatload of money. They believe funds will be overflowing onto their laps. If we continue to isolate this passage by itself, we will be practicing a scholarly scripture term, eisegesis. Individuals who take one scripture verse and interpret the text to fit their agenda fall into the practice of eisegesis.
However, when looking at the whole section of today's gospel by Luke, we will notice that Luke never mentions money or material things. In this section of the gospel, Luke speaks about how we respond to our worst nightmares: the neighbor who borrows money and doesn't pay it back or the neighbor who curses at you and mistreats you with slanderous words because you took their parking space. Read this reading for yourself; Luke encourages Christians to behave differently from sinners.
Sinners don't forgive genuinely. They have their selfish agendas or other motives. And if they do show forgiveness to their neighbor, their forgiveness always sounds like a loud clanging gong. Forgiveness from sinners is similar to the actions of the puppeteer. The puppeteer, when needing something, will yank a string. Sinners expect you to do something for them that could lead to immoral activity. They will scream and demand that you owe them because of their cheap forgiveness towards you. They always have a string attached to their behavior.
Therefore, in our gospel, Luke urges Christians to give more than the sinner. We are to show mercy and spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit. If someone hates you, don't hate them back, for sinners can do that. But we, as children of God, led by the Holy Spirit, must use the gift of courage to pray for them. Perhaps they have had a bad day and need someone to pray for them. Yes, we are to be different.
The gospel is calling us to give mercy. We must acknowledge that God has forgiven us over and over again. The same mercy we receive faithfully from God every morning is what we must show to all. The Prophet Jeremiah said, "The LORD's acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness!" (Lam. 3:22-23). God's mercy comes to us new every morning, shaken down from heaven, and overflowing. God is faithful to give us a good measure of mercy to witness to others His abundant mercy.
Furthermore, our responsorial Psalm reminded us that "Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy." (Ps. 103:8) Our cups are overflowing with mercy to give away because God always gives us enough mercy for the day. Truly, "goodness and mercy* will pursue [us] all the days of [our lives] ..." (Ps. 23:6). We must give mercy away!
Authored: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS