Gospel: Mt 5:43-48
You have heard, that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love your enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust.
If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? As for you, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus’ command to love our enemies is absolutely crucial—for our happiness. Because nothing ruins more a person’s serenity and peace of mind than harboring hateful thoughts all day long. But, in order to obey Christ faithfully, we must be clear about a few basic things.
First, Jesus is not asking us here to like our enemies, because that would be psychologically impossible. Liking someone is a spontaneous reaction over which we have no direct control—as also disliking someone. Loving is very different. It consists essentially of a free decision of the will and any normal person is capable of that.
Second, as shown very clearly in the parallel passage in Luke’s gospel (Lk 6:27-36), this decision of the will is directed at doing certain actions in favor of the enemy: do good, bless, pray for, lend money, help in any reasonable way.
That is all that is involved here. But, if one billion Christians decide to take Jesus’ teaching seriously, the face of the Earth will be changed forever. But this most desirable result can come about only if you and I decide to love the enemies in our own lives, in our own back yards. How about it?
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