To Love Our Enemies

Matthew 5: 43-48
Dt 26:16-19 / Ps 119

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5: 48)

Love must have no limitation. . .
Though it may seem inconceivable
That love will come to perfection
Once it includes the unlovable.

Our Lord began His teachings against the Rabbinic laws of the past by starting with the premise, “that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain both on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. 5: 43-48

Clearly, Jesus was pointing out a higher standard of love than that taught by the scribes and pharisees. There is no reward for a kind of love that takes no effort to practice. To be worthy children of God, we must love the way He loves all men, with no discrimination, showering His blessings and trials both on the righteous and the sinners. It is true that loving one’s enemy is almost an impossible proposition. But only from a human perspective. It can only be done in the context of the divine; which is why He said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection

We are a community of brothers and sisters with a common culture, common values, and a common purpose. And so we share a natural affection for each other because we share so many significant things in common. In the same hotel where we hold our breakfast fellowships, there is another group of Christians (non-denominational) who also hold their breakfast meetings on the same date and time. They are clearly different, being outside our community and estranged from our Catholic doctrines. It has often happened that first-time guests of ‘this other’ community would find their way (inadvertently) into our venue, and a few of our members mischievously invite them to stay in our company, instead of directing them to the other room. Of course we love our community, and we want more people to share in our happy gatherings. But are we not sowing seeds of discord by “pirating” the guests of our brothers in the other Christian community? How can we even begin to think that we can love our enemies if we are making enemies of our own neighbors? This was the kind of trap that our Lord was pointing out to the Jews of His day, who believed that just because they were the ‘chosen people’ they had no obligation to love the gentile outsiders.

Lead us, Lord to the truth that it is better to be kind than to be right, and be willing to suffer ridicule for the sake of winning a friend for Jesus. Amen.

One Response to “To Love Our Enemies”

  1. al barretto  on March 3rd, 2007

    Jesus is teaching us a real precept, not just piety. While nailed on the cross: “Father forgive them…”, the first word of the Seven Last Words.

    Every Good Friday, the Church offers prayers and suffrages to God on behalf of those outside the Church that they may one day come into full communion with the Mother Church.