Love your enemies! The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency.

Love your enemies! Almost everyone is familiar with this command. And almost everybody thinks that, while perhaps an ideal, it is hopelessly unrealistic. Maybe. But maybe some context might help us understand how central this really is to being Christian. Over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it is just not possible to move into the actual practice of this glorious command. But, far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus was the practical realist. And now, the words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. This command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for our enemies!

It is also necessary that we go into the question of why we should love our enemies: because hate for hate’s sake only intensifies the existence of evil in the world. Somewhere, somebody must have a little sense and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. The tragedy of hate is that it intensifies the existence of evil in the universe. We simply must have enough faith to cut it off and inject, within the very structure of the universe, that strong and powerful element of love for our enemies.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Christ makes this sound so easy in today’s gospel, but what a challenge it is for us! We notice that He didn’t say, “Some of you might want to be perfect,” or, that “Only some of you are capable of being perfect.” No, it is a directive to each of us, but how can this be done? How can we become all that our Father wishes us to be? This statement about perfection tells us one way to become like “children of our heavenly Father.” It is that we “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” Some people may feel that they really have no enemies, no one who is hostile and overbearing, but many of us do from time to time. We might take time today to think about how we are doing in our interactions with these people. Are we widening the gulf between us by our body language and the things we say? Or, are we making honest attempts to reach out to them? The challenge is ours!

“Make me an instrument of your peace.” (St. Francis)

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