Here is Fr Neil’s sermon from a couple of weeks ago:
Jesus continues to teach what fulfilling the law means. Jesus expands and deepens God’s revelation of himself in the Law and the Prophets. Later, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus will summarise by saying, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love you neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
But we-like the expert in the Law, who wants to justify himself-may want to ask, “Who is my neighbour?” In Luke, Jesus tells the famous story of the Good Samaritan. Here, in his Sermon on the Mount, he also explores what loving your neighbour means and who our neighbour is.
One might forgive the disciples for being slightly shocked after already hearing that their righteousness must exceed the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus then, basically, goes on to say that the neighbour you must love is the one who strikes you on the cheek; your neighbour is your enemy and the one who persecutes you. It is only by loving such as these that we will be able to come close to explaining and understanding that perfect love, which is our Father in Heaven.
But surely to act in such a manner would make us out to be fools in the eyes of the worlds? Does not our own sense of justice (or is it retribution?) require an eye for an eye, a hand for a theft? Only a fool would not expect payback when we are wronged- this worldly wisdom is perhaps behind our litigious society? However, that (wrongly attributed) saying of Ghandi, ‘An eye for an eye will leave the whole world being blind’ hints at a deeper wisdom than that of the world.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord.” God’s way would seem folly to the wise of the World. Evil cannot comprehend the way of divine love.
Jesus asks nothing of his disciples that he himself would not face himself. He turned the other cheek to those who would beat and scourge him. Although he could call 12 legions of angels to his aid, he put himself into the hands of his enemies and persecutors. He would receive the kiss of betrayal and while on the cross would cry “Father forgive, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Why? What foolish love is this? It is the foolish love of God for all that he has made. It is rooted in a truth that everything that is made, however marred by sin it is, carries the mark of its creator.
Jesus perceives that icon of God even within his enemies and out of love is willing to die so that image may be recovered; that alienation healed; that we might become again that holy dwelling place of the Lord. A temple fit for the Holy Spirit of God.
Are you a follower of Jesus? Then recognise the mark of God in all and allow a love to grow within, that is not our own. Let our love make us fools in the eyes of the world because it is only the foolish love of the divine that can make this blind world see again.