If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 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, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
OK, wait, wait one minute!!! Jesus, you may have gone too far this time! You actually want us to live in a way that will mark us as weaklings in our time and by our culture? You want us to love those who are our ENEMIES? You want us to do good for the sake of doing good, even to those who do not understand the phrase, “quid pro quo”? And Lord, you really expect us to do this with an expectation of NOTHING in return? Please, this makes no sense . . . at least not when we live by earthly rules.
Beloved, the Kingdom of God does not “play” by earthly rules. The one whose birth we await, Emmanuel, invites us, no, commands us, to live by a different set of rules, the rules of love and grace. We who follow Christ are called to love, share, bless and offer grace to others just because God does the same for us and for them. God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, and calls us to be the same. Tough assignment– YOU BET! But who knows whom we might win over if we behave in this way. Who knows what heart we might turn if we are different than the world around us. And even if we win no one on earth, we will have gained God’s favor by living God’s way. Help us Lord, for this is not at all easy.