To Love as God Loves

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

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:44)

God loves even those we reject
For their perceived inequities;
He wants our love to be perfect
By loving all our enemies.

(Jesus said), “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.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Reflection

Jesus exhorts His followers to go beyond the level of loving that ordinary mean people and unbelievers practice without any effort. “Are not even the tax collectors doing that?. . . Do not even pagans do that?” Sinners, and even criminals are capable of loving those who love them. If we must be perfect, we must follow the example of our Savior Who, while hanging on the cross before His death, asked His Father to forgive His executioners, “for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34).

In most cases, those who offend us do not really know the gravity of their words or actions. They are not our enemies. The enemy is the devil who initiates the conflicts. He plants the seeds of discord, like envy, prejudice, anger, pride or even simple miscommunication. Even our good intentions can be misunderstood by other people who have been influenced by their biases or false information.

When the head of our community appointed me to be the unit leader of three groups whose leader moved on to a bigger area of responsibility, the leaders of those groups questioned the appointment, and recommended another brother to be their unit leader instead. This seeming rejection did not offend me as I respected their sentiments. But two anonymous text messages questioning my intentions and insulting my person did, even as I offered to arrange a meeting between the group leaders and the chapter head so that he could hear their side. Fortunately, the wisdom of our chapter head prevailed, and their meeting ended with satisfactory results for all concerned. He recalled my previous appointment, and appointed me to three other groups whose members are all closer to our home, and one of which my wife and I were previous members. “All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). We have forgiven whoever it was who sent those offending text messages, because he or she did not understand that we are only serving our community according to God’s plan.

Jesus wants us to understand that in the face of conflicts and contradictions, we have the opportunity as children of God to be peacemakers, even or especially if we face persecutions and unfair criticisms. Jesus said God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Therefore His loving does not depend on men’s behaviors. Saints or sinners, He loves us all. By loving sinners (not their sins), we are manifesting His love, and participating in God’s process of conversion. If we do not love our enemies, we are refusing to be His channels of forgiveness and agents of peace. Jesus has shown us how much He suffered to be the Mediator between God and mankind. If we are to take up his cross and follow Him, loving our enemies can’t be that much of a burden.

Help us, dear God, to go beyond our capacity to love, so that we may fully understand Your true nature. Transform our prejudices and ill feelings to compassion and forgiveness, so that our perceived enemies may become our friends and brothers in Christ. Amen.

One Response to “To Love as God Loves”

  1. gerardoabrera  on June 16th, 2009

    thank you for having a brother like you in the bcbp