I have to say, though,the antics of this Pistol-Packing-Pastor helped me to hear today's Gospel like never before:
To you who hear I say, love your enemies,Thanks to Rev. Jones and his irresponsible proposal, I am more aware than ever of how much the Gospel would change the whole world--if we Christians would let it first change us. To the extent that Jesus' words remain suspended in mid-air while we put them on hold, the world and history (exemplified by Rev. Jones' attitude and convictions) will continue as always, responding to insult with insult; declaring war on entire populations whose fringe members have done us wrong.
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well.
....love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.
St. Paul (in the first reading) issues much the same challenge as Jesus, though applied in a very specific setting. He points out that the more scrupulous members of the Corinthian community were being scandalized by the thoughtless expressions of "freedom" taken by the bolder members. In the nitty-gritty of a community's life, those who consider themselves strong have to bow before the weakness of the fragile ones; they have to bear that weakness, even though it means not exercising all possible freedom. They must "be merciful, just as the Heavenly Father is merciful" toward "that brother for whom Christ died." This is to see the other as the Heavenly Father sees all of his children.