By Al Spilly, C.PP.S.
When Jesus calls disciples and sends them on mission, he requires certain things of them. Naturally, he does not assume that they will be abusers or victimizers. Rather, from time to time they will be the victims of others’ curses and other forms of mistreatment. How are the disciples to respond? How can their actions give witness that the kingdom of God is already present—a kingdom of encounter, dialogue, and inclusion—a kingdom of mercy and compassion—a kingdom of peace, justice, harmony, and unity? Above all a place of love.
We witness cycles of violence every day in our world. An insult invites a return insult. A blow leads to another blow. Violence begets violence. The only antidote to the cancer of violence in our society is for missionary disciples of the risen Lord to respond appropriately when harmed. We are not merely to react and claim victimization. We are to live out the principles of the kingdom of God—love, forgiveness, generosity.
Years ago, my family had wonderful neighbors with six children, who often helped with our lawn and garden or whatever we needed. When we tried to offer the children some money in recompense, the parents told us that they were raising their children to help others without expecting anything in return, not even thanks. That goes to the heart of today’s Gospel. It may not be easy to live this way, but parents have a wonderful opportunity to raise their children in the same way—as authentic disciples of Jesus, basing their lives on the biblical mandate to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. Consider the alternative: treating others the way we do not want to be treated!
Living by the Golden Rule can go a long way to bring healing, reconciliation, and harmony to our current divisiveness, polarization, and uncompromising. Living by the Golden Rule serves the common good and builds up the Kingdom of God.
Fr. Al Spilly, C.PP.S., lives at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. He has taught Scripture at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and has given many Bible-based retreats and talks.