- Genesis 45: 3-11, 15
- I Corinthians 15: 35-38, 42-50
- Luke 6:27-38
When I was part of organising national campaigns to demand justice for Dalit Christians in India, to whom justice has been denied for the last 72 years, I worked with one of the civil society organisations who have been local partners with Christian Aid in this endeavour for justice.
That was my first exposure to Christian Aid. It is not an aid agency for Christians, but rather a charity run on the values of Christian ethos, reaching out to all people in need, transcending all the boundaries of religion and identity. I say this not as an observation, but as a testimony.
Jesus in today’s text from Luke says: there is no big deal in loving, doing good and lending some help to those who have already done such things to you. Rather, Jesus stretches, and says: ‘Love your enemies, do good and lend, expecting nothing in return.’
We today need to thank God for charities like Christian Aid, who have been selflessly serving the poor and needy without expecting anything in return. Our churches have always been generous in helping others, and in doing good. However, we have often added some ‘conditions apply’ tag to our giving, by saying we can raise money for such ‘Christian’ charities or such ‘Christian’ people. We have tried to do good and lend to those other churches and charities who belong to us, who believe like us and who look like us.
Our readings today challenge us to transcend the boundaries we have drawn and start loving, doing good and lending to those who are not in our fold, who do not belong to us and who do not believe like us. To step outside the box and start loving the other as ourself, keep doing good to those whom we do not know, and start lending to those who are deprived. Trespass the boundaries.
In the text from Genesis, we notice how a migrant Joseph, who was trafficked during his childhood, rose up to become a leader in a foreign land. On seeing his brothers who sold him away, Joseph did not do evil to them, but loved and did good to them and their family. Revenge is not the way forward; rather, love is a way forward.
It was famine which made Joseph’s brothers come for help as refugees to Egypt. Even in our times, we see many crossing boundaries and seas, fleeing violence, war and poverty. The Gospel message that comes to us is to love refugees, do good to them and lend to them in whatever way possible. Loving and doing good to your folk, families and friends is no big deal. Christian Gospel is going that extra mile, trespassing the boundaries and embracing the ‘other.’
Let us pledge this Sunday to strive for social justice by receiving the ‘other’ and sharing our love with them. After all, love is selflessness and self is lovelessness.
God, who in Jesus journeyed as a child refugee, crossing boundaries to other nations, help us as churches: shake us up from our complacency where we seek comfort and convenience in our helping others.
Lead us to show our love to those people who are leaving their country out of fear for life. May we be living examples, demonstrating Christ’s love to all people around.
Points to pray for this week
25 February to 10 March is Fairtrade Fortnight. Pray for the message of Fairtrade to be heard loud and clear, and for farmers to continue to get a fair price for the goods they supply. Find out more here.
Pray for all those from Myanmar seeking refuge in Bangladesh. Pray for a lasting peace for all who live in Myanmar. Find out more in the prayer diary for this week.
This week’s sermon pointers have been provided by the Rev Dr Raj Bharath Patta, an ordained Minister of the Andra Evangelical Lutheran Church in India and is currently serving as an authorised Presbyter at the Stockport Methodist Circuit.