In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
The Apostle Paul tells us, my brothers and sisters, that the teachings of God may be found by all people, be they followers of Christ or otherwise. He says there are people from the nations “who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.” (Romans 2:15) The Lord taught his disciples, in today’s Gospel reading, what we hear throughout our world, whether religious or not, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This Golden Rule is a good thing, a wise thing, a God-appointed thing.
Yet we fall so easily, you and I, into the trap of treating others in the same way as they treat us. “I will be kind to those who are kind to me,” I tell myself and then allow human interaction fall to the lowest level. And Christ calls me out, every day but particularly today, and tells me, “no.” I must act with respect and decency to all regardless of how they wrong me, how they hurt me, how they ridicule me. I must live by a higher standard. Because in Christ there is a higher standard to which we are called, one which goes beyond the Golden Rule.
Christ tells each one of us, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” ‘Mercy’ is a difficult word to explain: we think of a courtroom, of a criminal begging a judge for mercy: and this is an example of mercy. Yet it also means to be loving, to be giving, to suffer on behalf of another. Mercy is the main characteristic of God—creation is a merciful act, as was voluntarily ascending the Cross. It is to this standard that we are called, to give as God has given to us, to love as God has loved us, to be merciful as God has shown mercy to us.
My dear brothers and sisters, God has blessed you that you may know his blessings and rejoice in his Kingdom, he has overlooked all your offences and welcomes you in to his Kingdom. And this is the love—the mercy—which we are to show even those who wrong us. “We have this treasure,” writes St Paul in today’s Epistle, “in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” It is all God’s in any case. Let today be the day when we let the mercy of God radiate out through us towards all in our society that we may be witnesses of him in this world which so needs him.
That we may offer glory, honour and worship to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and pass on that which we have received. Amen.
Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, ” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke, ” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
— Second Corinthians 4:6–15
The Lord said, “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
— Luke 6:31–36