The Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 6:27-38. 

Continuing with the summation of the New Covenant in His Sermon on the Plain, Christ commands His disciples to love enemies and to refrain from judging and condemning others. Christ’s revelation of the supremacy of love is revolutionary for He extends the love Israel must have for other Israelites to include all people. Christ’s call to love enemies was completely countercultural in the ancient Middle East and even most places today.

Christ commands His disciples to love everyone and describes specific acts of love. His edict of love has no exceptions even for enemies; He requires disciples to love those who hate, curse, abuse, strike and/or take one’s possessions. Christ preaches a radical kind of love which generously gives to those who attack or those in need.  Rather than simply not responding to attacks, Christ further requires His disciples to not judge and condemn others who sin, instead requiring disciples to completely forgive those sin against them. He commands His disciples to be generous and to “love your enemies, and do good…expecting nothing in return.”

Rather than simply issue commandments, Christ offers a rationale for why men should take up revolutionary love. It is in a man’s self interest to live the Golden Rule to treat others with love for they will be loving in return. He explains that His followers must live to a higher standard; otherwise, they are no better than sinners. He confirms that those who do not judge/condemn will not be judged/condemned. Christ promises “your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ proclaims the New Covenant which requires a revolutionary kind of love. Divine King, Christ commands that His disciples aspire to the highest and most demanding of moral standards, that of unconditional love. Divine Teacher, Christ teaches new and difficult ideas with memorable and impactful terms (“turn the other cheek”). Divine Judge, Christ reveals some aspects of how the Judgment works (“the measure you give…”; “forgive and…”).

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men are sinful and violent, often embracing the most odious kinds of torture, abuse and murder, often in the name of God (Islam’s historical and current emphasis on conversion wars and killing of non-muslims). Reflect on Christ’s commandment for the boundless love of enemies, a radical new idea in human history that He will personify in the Cruxifixction.

2) Christ’s commandment to love enemies is a radical departure from men’s natural instincts to protect and retaliate; it requires a radical chance in how one thinks. Reflect upon the  Judgment and Formation of Conscience (CCC 1783-1785, 1798) and pray for Christ to help you continually conform your conscience to Christ’s commandments. 

3)  Christ desires men to make the right choice when confronted by evil in the world.  Consider how to Choose in Accordance with Conscience (CCC 1786-1789, 1800) and pray for Christ to give you the prudence and fortitude to choose to love even in difficult circumstances.