During the time of Jesus, the culture lived by the concept of reciprocal justice: "An eye for an eye." But Jesus turned that idea upside down. He challenged his followers - he challenged us - during the Sermon on the Mount saying: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Our Father in heaven is loving, and as his children, our call is to be like him.
These past few weeks, there has been an overwhelming amount of tragic violence and a seemingly ever-growing amount of hatred expressed towards those who are blamed for causing these acts of violence. Hatred eats away at us. These days you can almost feel the hate tearing us apart.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said: “more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48) We Christians we are the ones who have been entrusted with more, and therefore more is demanded from us. Jesus is talking about spiritual wealth. What we are entrusted with is FAITH. In the book of Hebrews, we hear the only explicit definition of faith in the Bible: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What we have been entrusted with is a hopeful faith. And this faith calls us to love always, even those we see as enemies. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves:
Is that what people around us see and hear from us a hopeful faith, a faith that loves?
God demands that we rise above the hatred and the rancor and respond to our society with love. Love for all. Even those we disagree with even those we can't stand. Luke writes in the 12th chapter of his Gospel (Luke 12:32-48) a collection of short parables Jesus spoke in which the main characters are a master and his servants.
The master in the story is the risen Jesus, the risen Christ who we believe will come again. That is our hope, that is our faith. The servants are his followers. We are his servants. According to these master-servant parables, the future coming of Jesus is certain, but its precise time is not known. The parables tell us the proper attitude for the servants is to be ready for the master’s return, to be continually watching. The hope of the faithful servants is on the master's return, they will enjoy the fullness of God's kingdom.
In the parable, Jesus gives us the most radical image of what that will look like! Jesus said:
“Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table and proceed to wait on them.”
Do you hear that? God will put on his work clothes and serve us! That’s heaven!
No wonder we pray each week hopefully: “Thy Kingdom Come.” Jesus is telling us: “Do not be afraid any longer for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” A kingdom where we are the object of his service, his love. That’s genuinely good news. The servants - we - are entrusted with the management of the household, which of course is the world until Jesus returns. And our job is to make sure all know this good news. The “Good News” that we serve a God who is so full of love he’s ready to serve us.
The master could return any moment - at the end of our lives or at the end of the world - and he is expecting to find everything in order when he comes. That’s our calling, through our hopeful faith, we are called to prepare the world for his return.
Hatred is not what Jesus expects to find.
He wants us to share the Good News that our God is a God of love not hate. And he put us his servants in charge to make sure the world is a loving place. We have been called to cling to this hope of a future where there is no hatred, only God loving on us. And us sharing that love with others.
How are we doing? When the Lord comes will he find a loving world? Will we pass the test?
It starts with each one of us!