Today's Gospel is where Jesus really proves he is out to change the world. Nothing he tells us today comes "naturally." Nothing he calls for is intuitive. It's all evidence that he is introducing a new and unfamiliar world, a greater one, based on foundations that most of us have trouble imagining, never mind ordering our life by.
What struck me today in a new way was the command that we not try to get back stolen goods. In the translation used here in the UK it reads "do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you." (So polite!) My community runs bookstores, and we have had more than a few experiences with theft. We tell grand stories about the few sisters who have gone after a thief and actually gotten the stolen item(s) back: the Infant of Prague statue hidden in a coat, the stack of CDs, things like that. (We never did recover the Stations of the Cross that vanished, one by one, from our downtown Boston bookstore back in the day.) Once I watched a customer chase a thief down Michigan Avenue after she witnessed him shoplifting in our Chicago center. (Her family had worked in retail, so she knew what it was like to suffer from walking inventory.) Then there is the man who comes in, on a regular basis, to slip individual volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours into his open backpack... But, in the words of the song, Jesus says, "Let it go." Why?
I got a hint of where he is coming from (and where he means to take us) from the last sentence in today's passage of Luke: "full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over..." Jesus is testifying to a world of abundance. Who is it who would shrug off a theft? The rich person who knows "there's more where that came from." Yesterday we heard Jesus tell of woes for the rich, but today he is turning that around. He is telling us to have the kind of poverty of spirit that St Paul witnessed to: "We seem to have nothing, but everything is ours!"
It is not enough for us to be created in the image of God like a static portrait; we are meant to make the living God, "kind to the ungrateful and the wicked" (moi?) manifest amid all the "gods and lords" of this earth.