This week, the People of God during the Gospel at daily Mass are listening to Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain, perhaps more better known as Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes.
For me, as with all Scripture, but especially with the Gospel where Jesus is speaking, it is important to allow the ‘person of Jesus’ to speak directly to me, and to you. In the Instrumentum Laboris, which is the working document for the upcoming Synod on the Family, we are reminded:
“To look at Jesus means, above all, to listen to his Word.” (#38)
This action or ‘image’ of looking at Jesus is called to mind by Luke at the very beginning of this Sermon when he states: “And raising his eyes toward his disciples he [Jesus] said:” (Luke 6:20) and then begins the ‘sermon.’ Jesus is looking at his disciples, and he is looking at each of us.
This is our starting point for listening to the Gospel, Jesus is looking at us with love. To ‘listen to his Word’ is to look upon the face of Jesus; is to have a personal encounter with Jesus. Place yourself with the multitude upon the mount or the plain as Jesus is speaking, and allow his Word to penetrate your heart as his gaze of love penetrates your soul. Hear his voice. Experience his compassion. Understand his ‘authority’ as the ‘Word made flesh.’ This is not just any teaching, but the loving instruction of the Living God who comes down from heaven.
Today, let us pray for the grace to gaze upon the face of Jesus, as he is looking at us, in love. Let us pray for the grace to allow his Word to penetrate our hearts and lives as it never has before; as He never has before. He is alive. He is in the world today. He is with you and within me. He speaks a Word of Spirit and Life.
But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love eyou, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most Hig, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. (Luke 6: 27-36)