How do we deal with those who oppose us, both within our families and among our enemies? When someone who has betrayed us or attacked us dies, how do we respond? Outside of God’s Reign we may feel that we are justified in retaliating against our opponents. We may feel justified in celebrating the demise of our enemies. But when we seek to live according to the principles of God’s Reign these responses are no longer an option for us.

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues to explain what he means when he proclaims himself as the Bread of Life. He invites all who would come to him to eat and drink and know life, and he promises that those who share in his life will be raised at the last day. His promise is for an overflowing abundant life that cannot be destroyed even by death – and Jesus offers this invitation to all. He is not cowed by his opponents, but invites even them to come to him to find life. In the Old Testament, David grieves for his son, Absalom. If you trace the story, it becomes clear that David had failed as a father. Although he did try, rather half-heartedly, to make things right with his son, Absalom becomes so angry that he undermines David’s rule, and ultimately leads a rebellion against his father. Then, when Absalom is killed in battle, David’s response is not relief or celebration at the demise of an enemy, but deep grief over the loss of a son.

The essential message this week is this: We can never use the actions of others as an excuse not to love our enemies. It’s not that it’s easy to love those who oppose us. It’s that to do anything else but love simply increases the cycle of evil and violence, leading the world and us into destruction. It’s a tough call this week – but a life-giving one.

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