October 2 – Monday of the Eighteenth Week after Pentecost (3rd of Luke) Luke 6:24-30
The Challenge to Christians: Luke 6:24-30, especially vs. 27: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Blessed Theophylact, who prayed over this passage, heard the Lord Jesus’ call to “lowliness, humility, self-effacement, and self-reproach.” He urges us to love our enemies and warns that woe “awaits those who are rich and prosperous now,” and who show no consider to others around them (Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, p. 67).
The majority of us enjoy goods, satisfactions, and pleasures unknown to the rest of the world. Yes, there are those we call wealthy, which gives us the feeling that we are not truly rich. But honestly, by the standard of most people on earth we are quite rich, well fed, and comfortable. How often do those facts lure us into accepting the devil’s counsel to disdain our enemies!
“Is it the case that everyone who is rich and possesses abundant wealth is determinately cut off from the expectation of God’s grace . . . entirely shut out from the hope of the saints?” asks Saint Cyril of Alexandria. He answers emphatically, “Not so, we say, but rather on the contrary, that the rich man might have shown mercy on Lazarus [Lk 16:19-31] and so have been made partaker of his consolation” (Homily 29, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, p. 135.)
What about the goods that God has placed in our hands? Grave and eternal danger may overtake us in our material well-being, even though our riches may be limited and our pleasures constrained. May God reveal our true spiritual condition to us! The material things we possess can either help us grow toward the grace of God or turn us away from the true life in Christ.
We can learn to appreciate the difference between the miserly and the generous. We know a gulf exists between those who wantonly indulge themselves and those who seek the betterment of their neighbors. Advertisers continually encourage us to eat, drink, and be merry because we “deserve” it. How merciful, moderate, and sober are we in reality?
Our hearts seldom remain neutral when possessing this world’s goods. We must urgently heed what the Lord says in this passage. Here He gives us tangible measures for self-examination, once again holding up His icon of Extreme Humility.
How do we love our enemies? The Lord Jesus calls us to choose do them good, and good alone (vs. 27). That is how He treats His enemies. He gives them honest answers (see vss. 22:67-69). He refuses to be baited (vss. 20:20-26) but speaks the truth to all, honoring God in every matter (vss. 27-38). He remains silent before hatred, forgiving insults and injuries (vs. 23:34). Let us pray, “Lord, help us to be as generous to our enemies as Thou art!”
Are we able to bless those who curse or spitefully use us? Our Lord begs us, while we have breath, to return every curse, slur, tongue-lashings and hateful remark with polite firmness (vss. 22:47-53). Always He returns good for evil (vss. 50-51).
How do we react when we are assaulted physically or psychologically? How do we respond in our heart to being robbed or cheated? When Saint Myron of Crete discovered thieves stealing from his threshing-floor, he helped them fill their sacks, lift them onto their backs, and escape (Prologue From Ochrid vol. 3, p. 169). Help us to surrender our “rights” to Thee, O Lord!
By choosing to seek and apply God’s grace, we may learn how to handle the good things of this life in the way of the Lord. “Our business as Christians consists not in increasing the number of our good deeds,” says Saint Seraphim of Savor, “but in deriving from them the utmost profit, that is in acquiring the most abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Moore, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, p. 179).
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. – Lord’s Prayer