Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48
One of my chronic frustrations is that it seems like my pagan friends are such better people than me. They are kinder and more merciful; they work harder – why can’t I be as virtuous as they are?
Our Lord reminds me of that today, pointing out, “If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?” And I’m thinking, “Lord, I’m having a hard time just loving my friends and family – sheesh, would you believe what just happened today!” Oops.
Today’s command, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” is a tall order. It is probably the most profound and demanding aspect of the Christian life, and Jesus doesn’t downplay that reality. He says that if you manage to pull it off, you’ll “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We’re aiming for Godlike perfection? No wonder it’s so difficult. I can be sure I’m going to need some serious grace to get even close.
But we also get a glimpse here of why this is so important. Our enemies – even the truly wretched, vile, heinously criminal ones – are also our fellow men, desperately loved by God. If my little sins pain our Lord, if my big sins wound Him grievously, how much more does He suffer to see the horrid acts of the worst among us?
Our Lord is asking us to get on the cross and suffer with Him. To bear some of that pain. To fast and to pray for the deliverance of those so utterly lost in evil that they truly have no one else to pray for them but we little Christs.
Who has hurt you so terribly that you aren’t sure you can ever forgive? Perhaps a first step in learning to pray for such enemies is to ask God to restore us, to make us whole again.
Dear Lord, there is a part of me that is utterly broken because of what I have suffered at the hands of ___________. I am asking you to heal me. Restore my soul. Take away my fear. Take away my burning, crushing pain. Let me be utterly complete in Your Peace. And in so doing, help me be able to pray for Your deliverance of the one who has hurt me so terribly. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jennifer Fitz