Loving Our Enemies

Matthew 5: 43-48
Dt 26: 16-19/ Ps 119:1-2, 4-5,7-8

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.

(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 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.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

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.”

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 doctrine. 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?

There is so much animosity and conflict in the world today not because of competition for land, resources, or power — there are more than enough to go around — but because it is easier 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 believe that we cannot do anything about 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.

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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