“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Judge not, lest you be judged.” “Give without expecting repayment.” “If someone steals your cloak, give him your tunic, too.” These are hard sayings, aren’t they? Nobody likes to be cheated, lied to, or harshly judged.
The first point I’d like to make about the Beatitudes, which we heard yesterday, and the continuation of the Sermon on the Plain, heard today–We don’t like it when someone does those things to us, but God loves us, even when we commit sins. In fact, God loved Judas as much as he loved Peter. He loved Hitler and Stalin as much as he loves Pope Benedict XVI. God’s love is perfect. What he’s telling us in the last two days’ gospel readings is to try to perfect our love for others.
The second point I wanted to make is about how different denominations give more weight to some of Jesus’ sayings and less weight to others. I believe that Jesus always meant what he said, maybe not always literally, but there was always a point. Turn to John 6, the Bread of Life discourse, where Jesus tells everyone, in no uncertain terms that he IS the bread of life, and we must eat his flesh and drink his blood…does it not carry the same weight? Did Jesus not mean what he said? This is the difference between Catholics and Protestants-we take Jesus at his word. The apostles believed it. He asked them if they were going to leave, too; to go back to their former life…Peter responded, rightly “Where would we go? Only you have the words of eternal life.”
We all need to learn to totally trust Jesus and take him at his word.