Martin Luther King preached a beautiful and challenging sermon about the Gospel we will hear this Sunday. You know it: The one where after doing all the blessings and woes, Jesus exhorts his followers to love their enemies.
It’s a scripture text that screams for a workaround of some sort. Enemies: He must have meant neighbors we’re not getting along with. Enemies: He can’t possibly have meant people who might harm or kill us. Enemies: He certainly couldn’t have been thinking of (fill in the blank with your “evildoer” du jour).
One of my favorite personal workarounds is that “I don’t really have any enemies.” Well, if that’s so true, why was I shouting curses at the television set at almost raging volume? I won’t tell you who was at the podium blathering on.
I’ve been meditating on the challenge of living a Christian life in these times. More than ever, it seems to me that following Jesus has a cost. A cost very clearly spelled out by the martyr the Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he accuses the churches of his day with dispensing “cheap grace.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King knew this truth well. At the end of the sermon I mentioned earlier, he noted:
“So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.”
This will give me pause the next time I lose it and yell at an inanimate object.
Mass is at 10 .m. and at 5 p.m. Both gatherings are held at 7117 Washington Ave. South. Hope to see you! Friends, family, wayfarers welcome!
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece