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Do unto others

One of the inclinations of people is to rewrite segments of the scriptures or popular wisdom to suit ourselves, in all probability, in an attempt to make life easier for ourselves.

It can often seem that the well known Golden Rule that says, “Do unto others what you would like done to you,” is rewritten as, “Do unto others before they can do unto you!”

In saying this we are not encouraging each other to do good, but to be defensive and even aggressive in our defence.

But this is a long way from what Jesus taught us. He always tells us to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, to share our extra clothing and to outdo ourselves in generosity in order to rise above the fray.

However, he is certainly not suggesting that we allow ourselves to be abused, but just that we not perpetuate the antagonism out of which any mistreatment may have arisen.

Nor is he advocating passivity, but he is saying that we should not retaliate.

Jesus is describing what we today would call active non-resistance or active non-violence, the attitude taught by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. 

It is also the attitude that people involved in interreligious relations and dialogue are encouraging
us to develop, both in our per-
sonal lives as well as in our communities.

We are familiar with the answer to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” But we can be led to interpret it as meaning those we do not particularly like.

It is important to love even those we do not like much, to be kind to them and to help them when they are in need. But these are not the people whom Jesus is talking about in today’s reading.

He tells us that the neighbours whom we are to love are those people who do not like us. We are to love those who deliberately exclude us from their social circles, who talk about us behind our backs—even when our backs are not
turned.

We are to love those who make us feel that we are not good enough for them, those who resent us for our accomplishments. We are to love those who exploit us or do us harm. 

This is indeed a radical teaching.

Pope Francis puts it this way. “We always think of Jesus when he preaches, when he heals, when he travels, walks along the street, even during the Last Supper. But we aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyfully. Jesus was full of joy… It is precisely the internal mystery of Jesus, that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is his internal joy, the interior joy that he gives to us.” 

This week an appropriate prayer may be, “Awesome God, You give us a world of experiences to encounter your presence that can be frightening. Give us the grace to embrace these encounters and to place our trust in you. Amen.”

 

l Diocese of Sandhurst