[Jesus said:] You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? …Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus explains the law in a much different way than it was interpreted and taught by the religious leaders of his time. In other words Jesus was saying: Do not pay attention to popular religiosity. Pay attention to the clear message of Scripture, because one thing is what you hear, and another thing is what God says.
By loving those who do not like us, or hate us, we are showing who we are: children of God. If there is one visible way we show that we have received God’s forgiveness, it is by loving those who need extra grace. Reconciliation is now required, not only among brothers and sisters and friends, but among you and those who are –in everyday terms– “impossible.”
This action will require an extra measure of humility and maturity on our side. We are called to be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect. We are not called to be perfect without sin, but perfect in the sense of maturity. We are called to be mature, and patient, and understanding, and loving towards those who dislike us.
We are not to be like the unbelievers, so, before we address any issue with our brothers or our enemies, we look up, and learn how our heavenly Father would do it. What would he do to those who hate him and persecute him? The same thing he did in the past, when people hated him and persecuted him killing his dear and only Son: he forgave them. He will treat his enemies the same way he treated us when we were still enemies. Saint Paul reminds us, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).
We are reconciled children of God. Now, in our relationship with others God gives us daily opportunities to show that we are his beloved children.
Rev. Hector Hoppe