“But I say to you that hear.., ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For 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? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.
For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:27-38)
In using this text listed for this Sunday, we greatly mirror what had been offered in its companion section from the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Saint Luke included topics from the common source tradition shared by both writers. Given this fact, it is therefore prudent for us to also examine the similar text from the “Sermon on the Mount” as found in Matthew. You can find our earlier study of that text at:
Our aim here however, is focused toward gaining understanding of the text in Luke in comparison with Matthew. Indeed, since the content of the “Q” source was certainly rich for both we can see the differences found between the two authors in their particular backgrounds, settings and audiences. These, I believe played an important part as to which words of Jesus came forth from their quills, given the writing resource available to each.
You see, each author, as guided by the Holy Spirit, tailored the points made. They attempted to pass on the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the needs of the community and thus made the message easier for their audience to apprehend… both the condemnation of the Law in our shortfall from the Law's expectations, and the great deliverance accomplished by our Lord.
Within Luke’s gospel then, it seems that we find issues covered which were more relevant to his readers than what is seen in Matthew. While most of what we read is complementary to the Matthean version, some subjects... such as killing and adultery... were stressed to a lesser degree. We wonder then, “Was this because Luke addressed a population across the Greco-Roman Empire that was much more accustomed to the raw business of war, rampant promiscuity and financial usery. It would seem so. While he did include some items as seen in Matthew, he glossed over others. It seems Luke did tailor the message to his audience.
What this reading comparison does for us then, is seen rather easily in how each attends addressing the readers of his community. We can glean proper assumptions from this technique. Matthew is understood as immersed and separating the Church in Syrian-located synagogues, enticing minds and hearts of Jews to embrace our Lord’s gifts and will. Luke however, is addressing a wider audience of diaspora Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. By examining each text then, and noting the techniques used by each author, we ask… “Isn’t it possible that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we also can address our own cultures with the same subtle nuance?” Cannot our preachers and laity do evangelical tasks with the same subtle planning? While we are certainly called to proclaim the right and inerrant text, I believe we are free in good faith to adjust the flavor of that sweet wine to suit those who attend the banquet. I believe that is exactly what is transmitted to us by both Luke and Matthew... even as we sinners are told to “judge not” and “condemn not” and “give” generously. The words of our Lord can jump out to us and to our own audience in our own time… and we as the Church shall be rewarded without reservation if we prayerfully rise to the task.
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