Responding to Christ’s Difficult Challenges
7th Sunday of Epiphany
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
February 20, 2022
Readings: Genesis 45: 3-11, 21-28
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Today’s lesson came directly from Christ. We need to be reminded that Epiphany means, God is all in all and is with us. He will not fail to fulfill His promises. There’s a reason why Epiphany is the 1st season of the calendar year. We learned from last week’s scripture in Luke 6:26 that Christ said, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” We are not to be easily persuaded and deceived by people’s sweet words. Too often we find ourselves listening with our minds and endorsing the wrong things.
In the Gospel today, He begins by saying, in Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This is something we do not really follow. Why did Christ say “love your enemies?” Because God is love. It’s the heart of the Father. He loved us when we were unfaithful to Him. He goes on to say, “Do good to those who hate you.” We do not revenge. We do not fight back.
Jesus gave us two commandments: Love God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The word, “love” has several meanings to different people. To some “Love is a box of chocolates,” to others it is a bouquet of flowers. But the bible in its original language has different degrees of love: 1) Romantic or passionate love or the love of a man to a woman 2) Familial love like a mother and child 3) The type that says be kind to others and is more of a reaction and not a commitment. God’s character is love. He does not condemn. He does not put people down. If Christ is in us, that should be the character that we possess. We treat others according to how we want to be treated. If someone curses us, we should bless them. In our lives today, we have a God who forgives, who gives us holiness and righteousness. Romans 12 says that we are not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The reason why there are so many diseases today is because we do not follow God. We do our own thing.
Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. We call this the Golden Rule. We’ve got to accept the ways of Christ in order to have the security and confidence. We should not fight back but bring joy and kindness to the other party. Give to everyone who asks of you and do not ask it back. Do not expect them to return it to you. Pardon and you will be pardoned. Give and it shall be given unto you by God, according to your measure, it will be given back to you. We are in control of our actions. The story of Joseph is a great example of not fighting back or being vengeful. Because he was in obedience to God’s principles, he ended up victoriously.
John 14:12 ”Truly, truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus is talking about how we should live our lives, that our hearts should have kindness, gentleness, compassion and love for others. If we exercise the promises of God, and act upon these promises, this is when we will receive the blessings and we will find life much better. Matthew 4 says that we should take care of what we listen to. The seed is in us. We just need to cultivate it and then manifest what has been planted in our hearts. We need to make that decision today.