Homily, Let Love Flow
Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C, 2022
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
The Rev. Derek M Larson, TSSF
Today’s Lectionary Readings:
“O Lord, send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love” (Collect for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, BCP 216).
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I’ve been thinking about those glasses Fr. Doug told us about last week. You remember those glasses? When you put them on the whole world turns upside down? I’ve been thinking about those glasses and how if you wear them for long enough, you begin to think that’s just the way the world is. I’ve been thinking about the power of those glasses to make us see the world in ways that it was never intended to be seen.
Our gospel passage this morning is a continuation of Jesus’ sermon from last week. It’s part two of the same sermon where Jesus flips our world over saying “Blessed are the poor and woe to the rich. Blessed are the hungry and woe to the well-fed. Blessed are the sad and woe to the happy.” And if part one of the sermon was hard to grasp, in part two of the sermon Jesus ups the ante even more. In fact he begins this passage with the words, “I say to you that listen.” It can also be translated from the Greek as, “I say to you who are still listening.” As in “those of you who have not already tuned me out.”
“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Give to everyone who begs from you. Love your enemies.”
What a strange thing to say. Why would I love my enemies? Why would I love those who have hurt me? Those who have rejected me. Those who treat me badly? Why would I love them?
To be trampled on? To be walked all over? To have my love thrown in the dirt? It’s a bad investment. I’ll go broke. It has no return.
But this morning I’m thinking about those glasses. And wondering if perhaps I’m seeing the world as it was never intended to be seen.
What if love is not mine to give as I please? What if love is not something I own? What if love is not something I exchange for goods and services—for returned love? “If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you?” Jesus says, “Everyone does that.
What if my love doesn’t actually belong to me?
This is where the lens of Jesus rubs against the lens of 21st century consumerism, materialism, and individualism. It’s easy to see love as something that belongs to each one us and can be controlled, but in the Christian faith we believe that God is love. And God is not an object to be exchanged. God is not a thing I can hoard or reserve for a particular group. God is God.
And if the love that flows through me is God, it’s not up to me to decide where else it runs. If I withhold love from those I deem unworthy, I’m damming up the free-flowing river that is God. I’m keeping God away from others. Perhaps from those who need God most.
You see, The mission of God is to flood this world with love. To fill this whole world with Godself. And when we love our enemies we participate in that mission by becoming vessels through which God is poured out into the world. Loving our enemies, then, is an act of evangelism. It’s bringing God to people. Loving our enemies embodies the prayer, “your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
But when we pretend that love is something much smaller. Something we can hold in our hands and give to a select few as we choose, we cut off not only others from God, but parts of ourselves.
And so we have to ask ourselves: Are there places in our lives where God is not? Are there places in our lives where love does not flow freely? Where have we built up dams?
Another way of asking this is “Who are our enemies?
When Jesus told the rich man in Luke 10 to love God and love neighbor, the rich man wisely asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Perhaps we should be asking Jesus a similar question today when he says to us “Love your enemy.” “And who is my enemy?” Where are the places in my life where I have stopped up God’s love? We can’t expect to love our enemies if we don’t take the time to take-stock of who our enemies are.
In fact, I invite you now to pause and take a moment to reflect. Who are your enemies? Where in your life is God’s love not flowing freely?
Maybe it’s in a relationship with a family member. Maybe it’s in the ill feelings we carry towards those of an opposing political party. Maybe it’s in the ignoring of a neighboring community’s suffering.
Or perhaps it’s more internal. The enemy of negative self-talk, of addiction, of self-doubt.
Where have I dammed up Gods love?
Those are the places God wants to go.
Those are the places where God wants to drown you in love. Those are the places where God wants to open the floodgates so that you might be completely washed over.
Loving your enemy means allowing God to flow into the places that you’ve kept dry of love.
Love is not small. Love does not belong to me. Love does not belong to you. Love does not belong to any person so that they might choose where it flows. No, we belong to love. We belong to God. You. Me. Our enemies. Every material thing in this universe. We belong to God.
So let God flow. So let love flow. Amen.