Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of our world.
Today’s 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 and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
A Lenten Reflection
Over the years, the life and teachings of Jesus have been routinely subjected to a type of revisionism that is rooted in self-serving equivocation. For example, Jesus’ call to “love our enemies” is usually reduced to a figurative reading then passed off as what Jesus “really” meant, as a literal reading poses an unacceptable challenge to our society’s preferred “us vs. them” competition for superiority and control. Love and forgiveness are considered weakness in a world where power is measured not by what you can do for others but what you can do to them.
Viewing love and forgiveness as weakness betrays a deep misunderstanding of each. Weakness is, at its core, the inability to sustain integrity. What is weak is what fails at remaining faithful to its best and truest self. Love and forgiveness preserve rather than compromise the integrity of individuals and communities by engendering the healing, trust and cooperation needed to sustain them through the damages of sin. Together, the mutual acceptance and respect that are love and the mutual compassion and mercy that are forgiveness transform brokenness into wholeness and weakness into strength.
Author Marianne Williamson writes, “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.” Without forgiveness and love, both given and received, we cannot recognize and embrace our oneness. Lent can be a time of revelation as we open ourselves to better knowing both one another and ourselves in our common journey through our common humanity.
Eternal Father, your Son came to us so that, through his sacrifice on the cross, we would be reconciled to you and to each other. In this time of Lent, bring us together as your body, your church, your people. Restore our hearts to once again welcome each other with joy and without judgment. Help us to love one other, reconciled and sharing forgiveness and healing with one another. Make of us a people worthy of your Son. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.