Jesus has grown up with the awareness and pride of a Jewish boy who knows that God favors Israel over other nations. He has been taught how to love neighbors but hate enemies. A neighbor is a fellow Jew, and a non-Jew can immediately fall under the category of an enemy, hostile towards Jews, especially in the Old Testament period when the twelve tribes had to protect themselves from antagonistic elements.
Jesus challenges his fellow Jews to break out of their narrow patterns of thinking and to expand their horizon. Jesus gives the command: “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” By far, this teaching is one of Jesus’ most challenging and most difficult.
The normal human tendency is to eliminate one’s enemies, and the only prayer one can offer for enemies is their destruction. What Jesus gives is a radically new command. He does not tolerate a passive acceptance of evil, but insists on love as a positive action. We can love our enemies only with the love that comes from God. Jesus teaches us to summon our creative power to love an enemy. In doing so, we help the person to experience new life as we become new ourselves.
The best way to eliminate enemies is to befriend them.
Gospel • MATTHEW 5:43-48
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.