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.
Let’s be honest. Jesus’ call in today’s gospel to love our enemies is one of the most difficult to practice. We don’t like everyone. There are people who don’t like us either. Therefore, not everyone can be our friend. This is human reality. However, liking and loving are not the same. If we are serious about living our Christian faith, then Jesus’ commandment of love is part of the equation. It is the “code of conduct” that marks our belonging to him. This is also the area where we are challenged the most and where we can easily fail as sinners. How we regard others speaks a lot about our character, our level of maturity and our faith. Often the ones we consider our “enemies” are the people who have hurt our loved ones or us. Our tendency is to react negatively in their presence or absence; or simply avoid them so as not to be reminded of our hurts. We might not be able to love and accept them, but to love them as “enemies” from a distance is to keep the door of reconciliation open and to hope for a time of forgiveness and healing. To love them is to pray for them; or if I am not ready to pray for them, to beg God for the grace that I might desire praying for them. Jesus invites us to grow in freedom to refuse treating our “enemies” as enemies by calling us to bring our “enemies” before God in prayer with the hope that we will not remain enemies for long.
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