Greg Carey: Luke’s Gospel is big on demanding. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus encounters three would-be disciples. Each receives a warning that would vanquish enthusiasm like an ice-cold shower. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” “Let the dead bury their own dead.” “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Intensely demanding. The demands of Luke 12:32-40 may strike our ears as harsh. But the passage sets divine generosity as the larger context. The passage indeed calls for the renunciation of property, and it admonishes disciples to remain on the alert at all times. But consider how Jesus’ instructions begin: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Discipleship emerges not from fearsome demands but from the outpouring of God’s love. Divine generosity sets the tone for all of God’s expectations.





However this passage reverses that offensive slave imagery. It calls disciples to see themselves as slaves, ready for the Lord’s return. (Many translations render the Greek kyrios as “master,” but here it seems to refer to Jesus’ return.) And what a remarkable return. Upon finding those watchful slaves, the master performs the unthinkable act. He reverses roles, takes on the tasks of a slave, and serves those who would have served him.
Luke’s Gospel stands out for its vision of role reversal. The mighty come down, and the lowly find themselves exalted. The rich go hungry, while the poor are filled with delights (1:52-53; 16:19-31). Priests and temple functionaries pass by victims, while hated Samaritans demonstrate the meaning of faithfulness (10:25-37). Sinners attain justification, while the prayers of the righteous rebound against the floors of heaven (18:11-14). According to Luke, Jesus holds no patience with our assessment of who counts and who does not. While our Sikh neighbors labor for all to receive dignity, they pray even for their assailants.


One year after this tragedy, however, the Sikh community is challenging our assumptions about who merits our consideration. Right after the shooting, Amardeep Singh, co-founder of the Sikh Coalition, recalled the taunts and threats he had received in the wake of 9/11. Perhaps, some within the Sikh community wondered, we should educate people that we are not Muslims. However Singh writes, “To its credit, the Sikh community realized very quickly that it wouldn’t do to simply say, ‘Don’t hate me, I’m not a Muslim.'”

As he reflects on the Oak Creek shooting today, Amardeep Singh and the Sikh community extend the circle of their compassion. On the one hand, the shooting reminds Sikhs that they remain marginalized and vulnerable in American society. For example, Sikhs cannot currently serve in the U.S. military. On the other hand, Sikh spirituality seeks “buoyant optimism” for all of humanity. In the wake of Oak Creek, Singh reports, Sikhs were praying not only for the victims but even for the shooter — and for all people. Awareness of their own marginalization empowers them to value everyone, even people who kill in hate.

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