GOSPEL: Luke 6:43-49
Why do you call me , “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit: people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles. A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.
‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?
‘Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them-I will show you what he is like. He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. But the one who listens and does nothing is like the man who built his house on soil, with no foundations: as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became!’
In today’s gospel Jesus is at pains to point out that listening to his word is of no use if we don’t try to put it into practice. A pick and choose mentality is not enough. This is all the more significant given that Jesus says this at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount with its emphasis on the non-violent love of friends and enemies.
Here is an excerpt from my mentor in Christian Non-Violence Fr Emmanuel McCarthy about this.
Gospel Nonviolence is, as said above, a “way of being,” a way of living daily, rooted in a faith in Jesus being a person’s Lord, God and Savior, one’s way, truth and life. It is prior to and subsequent to any and all causes. It does not depend on any cause for its existence nor can any cause’s success or failure validate it or invalidate it. Gospel Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is what the Christian brings to the effort to accomplish all matters he or she desires to undertake. Nonviolent Love towards all in all circumstances, as defined by Jesus’ words and deeds, teachings and commandments, is the means that the Christian must perpetually opt for in trying to realize any and all ends.
When one of the great nonviolent Christians of the twentieth century, Clarence Jordan, brought a black man to his all white Baptist Church in Georgia, that very afternoon the elders of the Church called him to a meeting that evening in order to excommunicate him. At the evening meting after the elders made their accusations and laid out their case against him and it was now his turn to speak and defend himself, he placed his Bible on the table in front of them—he had a doctorate in Biblical Greek and they knew it— and said, “Show me in that Bible where it says I did anything wrong by bringing a friend, who is a Negro, to Sunday Worship Services.” There was a long silence, finally broken by one of the elders telling Jordan in no uncertain terms, “Clarence, we don’t care what it says in the Bible. We don’t want N…in our Church.”
If Jesus is not Lord, God and Savior, the Word of God made flesh, then the Italian young man above is correct—who cares what Jesus would approve of. But if He is God Incarnate then to say, “We don’t care what it says in the Gospels,” is a travesty and a tragedy, which can only bring to humanity further evil, misery and destruction. However expeditious, valuable, rational and/or realistic a choice by a Christian, contrary to the teaching of Jesus, may appear in the moment, it is not and cannot be good.