7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): More Than Level is the Kingdom
(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Last week we thought about the Kingdom of God as level ground. We thought about the hungry becoming filled, and those who cry beginning to laugh. We thought about those who have much, helping those who have little. Jesus' friends listen deeply to what he says. They love him. They can see that Jesus loves with his whole life. His life is a gift to them. They want to love like Jesus loves; they want to make their lives a gift for him. The disciples listen carefully as Jesus tells them how they can love him.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Hmm. When we think of love do we think about doing or feeling? Jesus speaks about doing. Loving is doing. It is an action. To love like Jesus loves, we have to think about our action—and whether we would like that same action done to us. Would that action be a gift?
Jesus also says,
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
What does "credit" mean? The Greek word that St. Luke uses is "charis." Charis is a gift—a grace or a blessing. When Jesus says, "What credit is that to you?", it is as if he is saying, "What kind of gift is that?" or "Is that a blessing?"
If someone loves us, and we love them back—isn't that a gift? Love is given, love is given back. It is a gift to each other. Even-Steven. Everything is level. Isn't the Kingdom of God level?
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?
Jesus asks the question again. If someone does good to us and we do good back—is that a blessing? Perhaps we bless each other. Everything stays even. The world does not receive any blessings, perhaps, but everything is level.
If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you?
Why does Jesus keep asking this question?? We start to get the feeling Jesus does not think these situations are blessings or gifts.
If we hope to receive something in return, how is lending to someone a gift? It is not. Is it a blessing? It is not. We thought that the Kingdom of God is about being level and even, but perhaps it is not. Perhaps it is more.
When we give a gift—a true gift—we do not look for something in return. A person who receives a true gift does not have to pay for it; they do not have to trade something for it. A gift is something brand new, something a person had not had before. It is good that the disciples love those who love them; Jesus does not want them hating people. Level and even is good. However, at the same time, Jesus wants the disciples to know that if they are looking to give him a true gift, if they want to love like him, then level and even is not enough. The Kingdom of God is more than level.
Instead, Jesus says,
love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.
Love our enemies?? Enemies are people who are not our friends or who seem to be against us. We do not like our enemies. How on earth are we supposed to love them?
But Jesus does not ask us to like our enemies. It is natural not to like everyone. Is Jesus asking us to hug and kiss our enemies like we hug and kiss our families, the people we love? Probably not. We remember that Jesus shows us that love is not a feeling. Loving is doing, and he tells us how. Do good, he says. Lend, expecting nothing back, he says. What would happen if we love like this?
What would our enemies think if we were suddenly kind to them? What if we smiled at them; what if we said hello in a friendly voice? What if we held open the door, or picked up a pencil they dropped? What would they think? They might wonder. They might be surprised.
What if we lent something to them—a pencil crayon, an eraser—or gave them a cookie or a muffin—expecting nothing in return? What might they do? How surprised might we be, to see what they would do?!
This is loving that is not level. This is dumping a whole lot of new love into the world. This is blessing the world in an uneven way. This is Kingdom of God loving.
EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD
loved their enemies???
Wouldn't everything be level again?
There would be no more enemies, only friends. It would be wonderfully, fantastically, uneven. More than level is the Kingdom of God.