The Way to Peace

Matthew 5: 43-48
1 Kgs 21:17-29 / Ps 51:3-6,11,16

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.
(Matthew 5:44-45)

Love must have no limitation
Though it may seem inconceivable,
But love will come to perfection
If it includes the unlovable.

(Jesus taught His followers), “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 children of your heavenly Father. 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

This teaching must have been a hard pill to swallow during our Lord’s time, just as it is still hardly practiced in our own day and age. But the truthfulness of those words have endured through the thousands of years since they were first spoken. There is no reward for the 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. While loving one’s enemy seems like an impossible proposition, Jesus is teaching us to elevate our standard of love to the level of the divine. Which is why He said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is only impossible if we try to love the “unlovable” on our own terms and human efforts. But if we pray for God’s grace to transform our hearts and help us to forgive our enemies, then we will eventually understand the true meaning of love in the perspective of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Loving our enemies does not mean we have to love them the way we love the people who are close to us. Loving our enemies simply means forgiving them and praying for their conversion. When His apostles asked Him to teach them how to pray, one of the most important parts of the Lord’s Prayer was “…forgive us our sins as we forgive those who do us wrong…” (Luke 11:4). Unless we forgive, we cannot love. While He hang dying on the cross in Calvary, He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus lived this example of love in His life, and He wants us to reflect all its aspects in our own life as well. His love is pure, unaffected, sacrificial, and heroic.

There is such animosity and conflict in the world today not so much because of competition for land, resources, or power –- God made sure there are more than enough of these to go around — but because we are inclined to hate or alienate than to love and trust those we perceive to be different from us. This has been the case between Jews and Palestinians in Israel, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, Indians and Pakistanis in the subcontinent, ethnic conflicts in Africa and other parts of the world, and even in our own backyard between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao. As long as we are driven by this “law of differences”, there will never be true peace. The only way to peace is what our Lord Jesus teaches us – to love our enemies despite their faults, just as God loves us in spite of all our imperfections. Nobody is perfect. Only the love of God is.

Grant me, Father, the grace to understand that all the people I come in contact with, regardless of position or affiliation deserve to be loved. Forgive me, Lord, if I am biased in my dealings with others just because they do not share my beliefs, or because of my prejudices. Help me to see Jesus in the faces of all people, especially in those whom I consider my enemies, so that I may learn to forgive and love them. Amen.

Comments are closed.