This is the sermon the Rev. Kevin Johnson preached on the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, February 20, 2022, at St. Alban’s, Theatre Arlington.
And 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…do to others as you would have them do to you.
And Joseph said (to his brothers who had sold him into slavery) do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life….You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children….I will provide for you….
Juan will spend 30, 40, 60 minutes picking out the perfect birthday or Christmas or Valentines card for me. Oftentimes he’ll drive to two or three different stores until he finds the perfect card. Then he’ll invest another goodly amount of time writing the note inside. It is a way of showing that he loves me. His love in action, in an investment of time, in vulnerably risking trusting me with his thoughts and hopes and dreams. This is a wonderful demonstration of love.
However, this is not the type of love to which Jesus is referring in this morning’s Gospel from his Sermon on the Mount. Now please do not hear me say that words of love do not matter. Words matter a lot, at least to me words of love definitely matter.
Jesus, however, is talking about more than words. Jesus is talking about the love of God actively lived through humanity, lived through us. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke “For one human being to love one another that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks….” The most difficult of tasks……
For you see: [video clip}
Love is not fundamentally… a matter of sentiment, not fundamentally about attachment, not is it fundamentally about being “drawn toward” another.
Love is active, is effective, is a matter making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies.
Love creates righteousness, love does Justice. Here, on earth. To make love is to make justice…
We are not automatic lovers of self, of others, of the world, or of God. Love does not just happen…. Love is… a willingness to be present to others without pretense, present without guile.
Love creates, Love breaks apart systems that push down, Love gathers together again that which has been torn apart.
Love is a conversion to humanity – both to your full humanity and the humanity of others – a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives writes Carter Heyward, (Our Passion for Justice).
Indeed, difficult though it may be, if and when we get to that place of embarking upon this most difficult of tasks – to love another human being, the stranger as if they were our intimate lover, the moment we embark upon that task is the moment we embark upon the journey towards our full humanity; the moment we begin to re-member the Divine Spark within our being. That is the moment we begin to realize, no not just realize, but to accept – yes, that is the moment we begin to accept that we are fully lovable and fully loved by the One who knows us fully. That is the moment we become healed and healers.
And 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… love others as you would have them love you. Amen.