But I say to you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favors to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.
But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For he is kind towards the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”
In general, we will rarely have the opportunity of exercising love towards a national enemy. The “enemies” we meet most often in our daily lives are simply the neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances who have wronged or indisposed us in some small way. Such enemies are constantly at our side. Those are precisely the ones Jesus asks us to love. Those are the ones we have to help when we can, forgive from the bottom of our hearts. No doubt such an attitude has nothing “natural” or spontaneous about it. On certain occasion, we would rather die than shake hands with the person who has just wronged us. But that is exactly what Jesus asks of us if we want to be his disciples: that we should die to our natural feelings and take on once and for all the magnanimous heart of Christ, he forgave his enemies on the cross. For we are called to become a new creation in him. If we accept to die in this way, we will discover a new life in him and be able to say with St. John: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love our brothers (and sisters)” (1 Jn 3:14).
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