Love Triumphs over Blame

24 February 2019 – Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies. . . (Luke 6:27)

Maybe Jesus anticipated how hard it would be to take this teaching to heart. He doesn’t simply just give it, but rather makes a point to frame it, “I say to you that listen...” Maybe Jesus knows that at least some in his presence aren’t really listening. . . Or when they hear this teaching, they’ll refuse to listen to it. In the midst of war, how can we possibly love our enemies? Isn’t it unpatriotic or even seditious?

Yet, Jesus couldn’t have meant we should merely pay lip service to the idea of loving enemies but the smoke them out and hunt them down nonetheless. Loving our enemies in a time of war remains our duty as Christians. If we’ve made it to Sunday worship or Bible study, we’re in a position to hear what Jesus says here. But are we ready to listen and take it to heart?

. . . If we hold our love and God’s glory apart from each other or simply don’t recognize the connection, then we fall into the same trap that so many of Jesus’ listeners did – recognizing the Messiah but not understanding what that actually meant. –– Jon M. Keune

Luke 6:27-38

The call to love of neighbor is common to the three Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam); the call to love of enemy is only found in Christianity. It is . . . the major challenge of the gospel.

This pericope is essentially a call to imitate God who has compassion for sinners (v 36). It continues with a command not to judge—a point that would be well taken among contemporary factions in the churches. . . One teaching stressed by Matthew’s Jesus is that forgiveness will only be given to those who forgive. Here we find the same teaching in Luke that is then illustrated by the recommendation to give good measure. This illustration is taken from commerce. It calls for a merchant not only to not fill a cup loosely so that the purchaser only appears to receive the quantity she or he has purchased, but to press well into the measure to insure that the flour, oil or whatever the content exceeds what is being purchased. –– Regina Boisclair

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

The wisdom of Joseph is shown to us in this story by his willingness not only to forgive his brothers the severe harm they meant to inflict on him in his boyhood but to go even further than forgiving in order to support them, to keep them alive, to nourish the bonds of their entire family.

Joseph’s vision rises above the personal resentment he could have harbored. Instead of nursing blame, he saw that, in the end, his life had taken on a meaning he never could have predicted. His brothers had sold him away and made it look to their father as if Joseph had been killed. For his part, Joseph turned that “death” into life. His gifts for dream interpretation, for honoring the skills God created in him, and his focus on making decisions that were beneficial to the people in his charge (i.e., storing grain instead of using it up) all served to give life rather than to do damage. His brothers wept at his generosity, and so might we. –– Melinda A. Quivik

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

Paul contrasts Adam with Christ. He associates death with Adam and eternal life with Christ (15:21–22); he considers Adam was the disobedient one and Christ was obedient to God (Romans 5:12–19).

In this application of Adam=Christ typology Paul teaches that while humanity has derived earthly life as descendants of Adam, Christ offers heavenly spiritual life. Thus he concludes that Christians who carry the image of the first Adam are destined to a resurrection in which they will bear the image of the risen Jesus. Paul’s understanding of resurrection was more complex than a belief in the reintegration of one’s earthly body (15:35f): it is also the heavenly spiritual body that is to be raised. –– Regina Boisclair

Jon M. Keune is a postdoctoral fellow in India Studies at the University of Houston and is approved for ordination as a pastor in the ELCA.

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Melinda A. Quivik, an ELCA pastor and former professor of liturgy and homiletics, is the Editor-in-Chief of Liturgy. Her most recent book is Remembering God’s Promises: A Funeral Planning Handbook (Augsburg Fortress, 2018).

Homily Service 40, no. 3 (2007): 26-40.

David Turnbloom