Love Your 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)

Though it may seem inconceivable
Love must have no limitation;
Once it includes the unlovable,
Then love will come to perfection

(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 children 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 only those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, 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

Our Lord began His teachings correcting the Rabbinic laws of the past by starting with the premise, “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.” Jesus was pointing out a higher standard of love than that taught by the scribes and Pharisees. It was quite radical at that time, and for many people, it is still radical in this present age. But 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. Our Lord wants us to understand that all the people we come in contact with, regardless of position or affiliation deserve to be loved, as He Himself makes no distinction (all inclusive). 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.”

As renewed Christians, we must learn to love like Jesus. This means removing all our biases in our dealings with others who do not share our beliefs. Enmities are borne out of prejudices. In our prayers, let us ask God to help us see Jesus in the faces of those whom we consider our enemies, so that we may learn to forgive and love them. 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, for we also forgive all who do us wrong…” (Luke 11:4). Unless we forgive, we cannot love. And our Lord always practiced what He preached. 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).

Loving, as our Lord has taught us, also means giving of ourselves to another, regardless of his status, tribe or affiliation. When a teacher of the law asked our Lord who his “neighbor” was that he should love, Jesus told His listeners the parable of the good Samaritan, who was “moved with compassion” for a total stranger who was waylaid by thieves and left for dead. Such a kind of love was foreign to the Jews who hated the Samaritans. A heart disposed to hatred will never learn the true meaning of love.

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. It is the least that we can do to repay Him for His great love for us. Amen.

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