FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Saturday, March 11
Class of 2018
The Hardest Command
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Matthew 5:44
In today’s Gospel, we hear the famous passage from Jesus commanding us to, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This passage is recited over and over by Christians worldwide. But how is it applied in our day-to-day interactions with one another? Often, we like to think that this command to love an enemy can just mean saying “hello,” and smiling at someone we don’t particularly like when we pass them in the hallway. Perhaps when we start thinking about our enemy, we begrudgingly say “God, please bless them.” While these are all good practices, Christ is calling us to something deeper and more challenging.
When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, He is not only commanding us to react to our enemy but to actively love our enemy. Love is not a passive sentiment or a reactionary response to the actions of another. To love someone means to actively seek out the good in the other. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Love means sacrificing one’s desires and possessions to further the good of the other. When Jesus tells us to love someone, He is not saying we should love them for a small moment in time, but rather at all times. In every circumstance, we should be actively seeking how we can best love the other, and make the necessary sacrifices to do so. So when Jesus says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” He is, in effect, saying, “actively seek to make sacrifices and acts of love at all times without hesitation to those who hate you and despise you.” It is this difficult responsibility that makes this command from Jesus so challenging, yet also so rewarding.
Lord Jesus, help me to love as You love; to embrace everyone as my brother and sister, as Your child. Amen.
Dt 26:16-19 Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8 Mt 5:43-48