Close up of plaster work in Trinity Church depicting leaves

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Transformed by God’s Mercy

LUKE 6:27–38

Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“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 Highest; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 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.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, part of the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus shows us the depths of God’s mercy. God sees us, in all our sin and failures, and loves us still, casting a merciful eye upon us and calling us beloved. This love of God for us, Jesus says, should compel us to look upon others with mercy, loving even those who do not love us back. This is a difficult message to wrestle with — that we might need to learn to how to “love [our] enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” Giving of our resources, or even sharing our time and kindness, without expecting anything in return, requires a lot from us. It asks us to relinquish judgement into God’s hands — the God who “is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” This is not a position we can arrive at overnight. Rather, as we walk with God, we seek to become more like God, and we are inwardly transformed by God’s mercy upon us. It is this transformation, over the long haul, that opens us to the vulnerability of loving even those who do not return our love. Mercy, then, is a spiritual discipline. It does not negate the need for justice but is a quality we can practice from the inside out. We are able, then, with God’s help, to acknowledge our own failures before God, allowing others to be fully loved by God as we also are loved.

—Summerlee Staten

The Bible Project gives us a compelling overview of Luke 1–9.

Souls Grown Deep highlights the work of Theodore Hill with his moving painting of Jesus and “The Sermon on the Mount.”

Wendell Berry considers what Jesus might mean when he says, “Love your enemy.”

Jaime L. Waters writes about how the life of Pierre Toussaint modeled Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. 

Paul Demer’s song captures the idea behind Jesus’ admonition to “love your enemies.”

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Coming Up

This Sunday at 10am, join Discovery for a community discussion on the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers’ book The Church Cracked Open.

And at 1pm, join an online pilgrimage information session with EO Tours and the Faith Formation & Education team to learn about “Following in the Footsteps of St. Paul,” a journey to Greece and Rome that will launch in April 2023.

Mondays at 5:30pm, join Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones for The River: Poetry and Practice as she leads mindfulness practice, reflects on a contemporary poem, shares how poetry can be used on your spiritual journey, and provides questions for ongoing reflection.

On Saturday, March 5, join Dr. Greg Garrett of Baylor University for Racism, Racial Mythologies, and the White Church, a morning workshop at Trinity to bring to light some of the hateful racial myths still causing damage within our culture, and within the Church.