Thursday of Pentecost 14 – Romans 12:9-21

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. She had loved him once. I suppose such a thing never entirely disappears from the heart. But that had been a long time ago and many hurts stood between those days and this day. No one had scolded her when they divorced. Many had expressed relief for her sake. His drinking was out of control and his bouts of drunkenness tended to violence. She knew what he was capable of, had experienced it herself. Now he lay there in a hospital bed. They had called her because he asked them to. His life was drawing to its wretched end and all he could do was lay there. Because she asked, the nurse and a doctor listed all the problems that afflicted him. But she only half heard it. The social worker explained that he needed a place to go. He had asked them to call her. They did not ask it of her, but she said yes, she would take him. She would care for him in his dying.  And she did. I still stand in awe of that woman and the depth of her kindness shown to a man who deserved none of it. Paul today enjoins us to bless the one who persecutes us, repay no evil for evil, never avenging ourselves but feeding our hungry enemy and sharing a drink with the thirsty enemy. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. Read each of those elements of this passage and imagine what it would be like to do them, really do them, in your life. While on the cross Jesus prayed for his enemies and died for their sins. That Lord who reigned once from the hard wood of that cross has imprinted himself upon us in our baptism, when the sign of the cross was made on head and heart. Bearing that imprinted cross means sometimes we are called to look a little like him in his boundless love. We look around us today and see a world fixated upon reparations and settling scores. It is the way of the world, but the Lord’s kingdom is not of this world. It operates on a different principle. It forgives and it loves.

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