Luke 6:36-38 (NRSVCE)
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
We all know the Golden Rule. It comes from Jesus’s own lips! “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) What we have here in today’s reading from Luke isn't quite what we know as the Golden Rule, but what I might call the "Golden Rule in practice." That is, what the Golden Rules looks like and why the Golden Rule matters. Jesus lists off things that everyone wants, like forgiveness, the staying of judgment, and gifts, and says that if you do not do these things, they will not be done to you. He sums it up with essentially, “you will reap what you sow.”
Our immediate thought is “Well, that’s ridiculous. Some people are just judgmental. They’re going to judge me whether I judge them or not.” And while that may be true, if we have ever practiced compassion and mercy toward others we know that others are far more likely to be merciful toward us. I think back to before I came home to the Church. I showed no mercy to anyone. Everyone in my life was my opponent, and my opponents were there to be beaten. They showed me no forgiveness, no compassion, so why should I do the same to them? My relationships suffered. I was left alone, simply because I was haughty, belligerent, and an overall nightmare to be around.
It wasn’t until I started practicing mercy that I realized how disordered I had become. People were more open with me, more willing to have conversations or just to spend time with me. We were able to actually engage with one another about things we cared about, rather than shouting over each other. My friends and family had, in fact, been trying to do this all along. I was simply too blinded by pride to see it. All of the judgment, anger, and vitriol I was seeing in others turned out to mostly be myself—that is, not “of my own making”, but actually projecting my own attitude onto them. This is the problem. If one has no mercy for his fellowmen, one cannot hope to form meaningful relationships. Even if others love us, and show us mercy, our own state in life blinds us to it. It prevents us from forming relationships. And, as we read just the other day, forming relationships with one another is absolutely essential to living the Gospel! Christ didn’t give us a mishmash of individuals all going about their own business. Christ gave us the Church! God is quite literally that which unites us, one to another! Learning how to form meaningful relationships with one another should be our top priority, so that we can all join together on the pilgrim journey of faith!
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”, for it is God’s mercy and love which gave us His only Son. It is God’s mercy and love which enables us to become members of the one Church, the Body of Christ, and it is as the Body of Christ that we are saved.