The first few verses of today’s Gospel reading would demand heroic virtue which you and I would find very difficult to emulate on any regular basis. Not impossible but difficult.
The rest of the Gospel reading is just common sense even from a humanist point of view.
It is well known – though not widely practised – that as I tend to treat others so will I be treated by them. If I am generous, tolerant, forgiving, kind, helpful towards others they will tend to treat me in the same way. If I am selfish, greedy, intolerant, unforgiving, litigious, unkind, then when I am in trouble people will tend to think, ‘serves him right’ and show little concern.
But then we come to Christianity. Then, even the heroic becomes possible. Believing we are all created in God’s (the Creator’s) image and likeness and that if we live in this way ‘we will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.’ We do it, not just because it is the right and best way to live together but because it is also pleasing to our God in whom we live and move and have our being. From whom everything we are and have is a free gift (grace).
So this brings our motivation to another level. I treat other people as I want to be treated myself not jus because it is good common sense for my own good but because I believe I was created to live like this and in doing so I become like my Creator in everything I do and say. I can then truly be called a son, a daughter, of the Most High because I treat and respect all others as well loved siblings.