To Love Our Enemies

Matthew 5: 43-48
2 Cor 8:1-9 / Ps 146

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.

“You have heard 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 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.”

Reflection

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.”

It is easy to love a community of brothers and sisters who share a common culture, common values, and a common purpose. Our feelings are quite different when it comes to other communities who, although Christian, do not adhere to the tenets of the Catholic Church. 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 inadvertently find their way 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.

We can never consider ourselves children of God if we do not mitigate circumstances that give rise to misunderstandings and conflicts. As Jesus said in the earlier part of this chapter, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt.5:9).

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.

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