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On Sunday, our Priest in Charge, Susan Carter reminded us of the most important fact...

The readings for February 20, 2022; Epiphany - Year C

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

Psalm 137:1-12, 41-42

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

Luke 6:27-38

Love is the Answer

The ideas for this homily were swirling around. They had been part of my heart and prayers for the better part of the past week but had yet to gel.

I sat down and looked at a blank computer screen. Casting about, came the answer – on the refrigerator.

Linda had purchased a small calendar while were in the States. Each month had its own page. Facing the month’s days was a saying, and for February was the inspiration for this homily. It was on a seven-by-seven inch piece of paper she had placed with magnets on the refrigerator:

“Love is the Answer.” Love is the Answer.

That is the message that our readings deliver to us today: Love is the answer.

Yet is it the one of the most difficult responses to a very simple question – how to live our lives in a Christ-like manner.

Jesus understood just how challenging the path can be.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Those are his words for us.

So easy to say, and yet so hard to do.

Those of you who follow American politics may recall a recent presidential campaign during which Michelle Obama offered the counsel “When they go low, we go high.”

Not only was it difficult to follow, it felt downright unsatisfying.

And, it didn’t seem to matter.

Where did “going high” – loving the enemy and turning the other cheek get folks? Not far, some would contend.

Still, we are called, urged, to love the unlovable – to embrace those who are evildoers, as the psalm suggests. We are “not to be jealous of those who do wrong.”

It is not that any one of us is incapable of giving love. Quite the contrary. There are many to whom we do show love: our families, our friends, the children in poor countries we may support.

We know how to love.

But, with all due respect to the singer and song writer James Taylor we must do more than “shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel.”

Perhaps we should extend that love to people we don’t love. Then his next lyric “Things are gonna be much better if you only will” gains a whole new meaning.

Imagine. If we only showered that love on – actually – our enemies.

So easy to say, and yet so hard to do.

Jesus continues by admonishing us. He points out that it is not such a great thing – it is hardly noteworthy – to love the people who return that emotion.

Quite – even sinners have people who love them.

The tough act is to do the unlikely, the unheralded and to love the enemy. He explains, “do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” Don’t judge because you might be judged, don’t condemn for the same reason. Make your practice to forgive.

So easy to say, and yet so hard to do.

Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church – to which we belong – has put love as his foremost emphasis. He has labelled it The Way of Love. But it doesn’t end the with a simple slogan.

Outlined are what he calls Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life. It is a set of intentional commitments dedicated to follow Jesus. They are commitments to turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, rest.

As we look for ways to love the enemy – the people who intentionally or unintentionally harm us or even hate us – these seven aspects can guide us.

Turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, rest.

It may be easy to say, but it is not that hard to do.

Adopting the practices can be the beginning of a Rule of Life – one that truly showers all of the people with love, not only those we choose to embrace.

It is taxing, I freely admit. Our human nature takes us too frequently to a darker nature. Of not wanting to go high when they go low. Of wanting to go even lower, not to turn the other cheek.

What, though, does that gain us, Jesus asks?

It is by loving, by making that path the Rule of Life, that we show we are his followers. We will be rewarded, as he explains. We will be children of the Most High. We will be builders and sustainers of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

Through the intention to turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, rest we will achieve so very much more.

Yes, it is so easy to say, but really not so hard to do.

After all, Love is the Answer.


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