“Be Compassionate As Your Heavenly Father Is”
Matthew in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and Luke in his ‘Great Discourse’ set out ideals of behavior for the disciple. In both cases, the norm is divine. The disciples are to pattern themselves of the goodness and generosity of God, not on society’s ideas of how to deal with family, friends and strangers.
Matthew stresses the goodness and generosity of God who makes his sun shine and rain fall, on deserving and undeserving alike. The disciple is urged to be “all good”, even as God is “all goodness”. Our normal human reaction is to measure our response to what has been given us, a tit for tat approach. Jesus expects us to be generous and good to others, irrespective of how they treat us. Heroic? Yes, it is.
Luke uses the word “compassion” or “mercy”, where Matthew speaks of “goodness”. To be compassionate, merciful and forgiving towards others is to act as God does. God doesn’t give us back what we deserve. God is not out to catch us for our failings. Rather, his grace and abundance is lavished specially on those who are undeserving. The disciple of Jesus should be like this; it is his forgiving nature which makes him most god-like.
When we look at the world today, and ponder over the anger and hatred of groups for each other, and shudder at their determination to take revenge for wrongs, some real, some imagined, we may well wonder - how much society would be changed for the better if only this Gospel teaching were put into practice!
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