1821 – 1891
Pitti Palace, Florence
The phrase "Ecce Homo", literally "Behold the Man", refers to the Gospel's episode narrated by John in which Jesus Christ was presented to the Jewish people.
Antonio Ciseri addressed that sacred subject in the same way as a historical event.
This is a painting of considerable size, made in almost 20 years, from 1871 to 1891.
Pontius Pilate presents Jesus from behind with a magniloquent gesture. Nobody shows their face, except for the wife of the Roman Governor, caught in a moment of intimacy together with her servant. She almost seems to whisper her conviction that Jesus is innocent.
27“Jesus said to his Disciples: ‘I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back’”.
We continue in Luke with the teachings of Jesus in the early part of his ministry. In Luke Chapter Six, we read of the election of the Apostles. Then, we find the Sermon on the Plain which is Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. There, all teachings are focussed on his Disciples although a great many had gathered to hear him speak, to be cured and to have unclean spirits cast out. As an aside, I find it interesting that this Gospel reading is at the end of a week devoted to the somewhat over commercialised passionate love of Valentine’s Day. In this Gospel we are challenged to discover and show the love of God.
The Golden Rule
The Beatitudes according to Luke were the substance of last weeks’ Gospel and we learned that Jesus Christ is the supreme example of a beatitude: Blessed and broken as the bread and wine in the Eucharist, a miracle sustained to this day in the mass. “The Beatitudes inform our Baptism in Christ, without accepting the way of life described by them there can’t be Christian discipleship, so no Christianity.
In this week’s Gospel the central message is the called, the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Sage advice present in other Religions, but Christianity presents it positively, “Do unto others” rather than “Don’t do”. Again, if we want to understand this fully, we have Jesus as the supreme example: He was innocent but He suffered abuse, torture, wrongful arrest, humiliation, and execution all without so much as criticising his torturers. In the garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed when “one of those who were with him cut off high priest’s servants ear”, He told the man to put away his sword.
Jesus even tells his Disciples He can call upon his Father to rescue him, but He does not because it will not fulfil his mission. Jesus shows complete supplication and how to “turn the other cheek”. But why should He do this? Is it not right to put up a fight for justice? Christ was not always soft. We read of his anger at the money changers turning his Father’s house into a market.
Treat everyone the same
It is perhaps the most challenging commandment, love your enemies. Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, ‘to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself”” Luke records in his Gospel Jesus' further command: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who treat you insultingly”.
Jesus bears witness to this last part throughout his life but the most memorable and poignant occasion is when He is dying on the Cross, and his last words are a prayer: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. In Barclay’s review of the Gospel of Luke, he tells us that in order to fully understand this commandment to love, we need to know there are three Greek words for love.
1. Eran – passionate love, sentiments of Valentine’s day;
2. Philein – familial love, for our nearest and dearest; and finally
3. Agapan, the one which fits here, a love which is benevolent towards another
person no matter what that person does to us.
Whatever hurt they inflict on us, we never wish anything but a desire for their highest good, and we aim to support them to that end. Jesus explains this clearly, when He says: “What credit is it to you if you love those who love you? Even sinners love those who love them” It is a love not just of the heart but also of the will, to love in spite of the hurt we feel. The grace of Christ will help us to do this.
Measure for measure
Barclay says that this Gospel reading has a second great facts about the Christian ethics: 'walking the extra mile’. As argued by Jesus, we must be better at loving than others. We are called to love even if it hurts, because it is the way God loves us: God shows mercy and judges nobody.
In this way we mirror God, and as Jesus refers to Him for the first time: “his Father”. These are all qualities we would expect to find in a loving Father.
After such tough lessons it is almost as if Jesus needs to console with a promise of the reward for selfless love, whatever ‘measure you award others, is the measure that will be awarded to you’.
“I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me;
give ear to my voice when I call to you.
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not turn my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
do not let me eat of their delicacies.
Let the righteous strike me; let the faithful correct me.
Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head,
for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.
When they are given over to those who shall condemn them,
then they shall learn that my words were pleasant.
But my eyes are turned toward you, O God, my Lord;
in You I seek refuge; do not leave me defenceless.
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me,
and from the snares of evildoers”.
“Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve You as You deserve.
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will”.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Imagine you are sitting on the plain near enough to hear every word Jesus is saying. Place yourself physically, the ground under you, the breeze from the lake, the sun beating down, your head covered and eyes shielded from the glare by a shawl. Your feet dusty from walking but you are glad of sitting. How does what Jesus is saying impact you? Are you able to concentrate and absorb the messages or are you distracted by the crowd, heat or sitting conditions?
What is it that Jesus says which strikes a reaction in you?
The proposition to turn the other cheek;
the commandment to love your enemies;
what you give to others will be what you receive.
Now we know the whole story of Christ’s sacrifice, love and acceptance of his fate at the hands of his torturers and executioners in the name of the love of the Father. How does this help us in our endeavour to live this way?
Luke 6:12-13: “Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles”.  Matthew 5:7  Luke 6;17-19: “He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them”.  Luke 6:20-23: “Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets”.  Matthew 26:26-29: “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body’. Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you; I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’”.  Homily Father Julio Ocana, Sunday 13th February 2022  Luke 6:29: "If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt".  Matthew 26; 51-52 "Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear".  Matthew 26:54 "But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?"  Matthew 12:12 "Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves".  John 13:34: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”.  Luke 6:27-28  Luke 23:34 "Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing'. And they cast lots to divide his clothing".  Barclay, William, “The Daily Study Bible the Gospel of Luke”, Revised Edition 1990, pages 78-79. Luke 6:32-34: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again”. Luke 6 36-37: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”.  Luke 6:36: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back".