“I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Jesus tells us today to aim for perfection because we serve a perfect God. Of course, children must resemble their father. Since God is perfect, we who claim to be His children must reflect God’s perfection in us.
And how do we do this? By loving our enemies, by praying for those who persecute us, by letting our rain (goodness) fall on both our friends and our foes alike, by letting our sun (warmth, love, concern) shine on both our friends and our foes, by greeting everyone including those who never respond to our greeting.
To be perfect is to have a heart so clean that it gives no room for hatred; a heart so sweet that it is never bitter at anyone; a heart so holy that it never contemplates evil against anyone. They say practice makes perfect. Begin with those you do not like. Change your feelings towards them, start thinking of them in very positive terms no longer as devils.
In today’s first reading, we hear the voice of Moses: “you have declared this day to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes and ordinances, to obey His voice and the Lord has declared that you are a people of His own possession, that He will set you high above all nations, you shall be a people holy to the Lord.”
What does it mean to be holy to the Lord? It is to be “set apart” that is, to be different from the rest of the world. If the people of the world believe strongly in the principle of “an eye for an eye”, we who are different should practice the opposite. When we are slapped on one cheek, we turn the other. This is the essence of holiness.
Is there even any reward for loving our enemies? Yes, we become free from bitterness, we sleep more peacefully at night, food even tastes better, our minds function better, we are able to receive new inspirations and as Moses says, God will set us high above all nations.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to love all my neighbours as myself. Amen.
Bible Study: Deuteronomy 26:16-19, Psalm 119 and Matthew 5:43-48).