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
One of the most enduring discomforts handed to humanity by the life and teachings of Jesus has been the three words, “Love your enemies.” The fact that they raise so many emotions and questions within us is quite revealing. Is it that we are struggling to hold two such opposite experiences in our heads at once, or is it that we are struggling to escape our responsibility for the distance that we have chosen to place between them?
In a world where power is measured not by what you can do for others but what you can do to them, to love your enemies is not only weak but absurd. Weak because it requires forgiveness and forgiveness means losing face. Absurd because it requires forgiveness and forgiveness mean relinquishing advantage. And it is in this math of our misguidedness that we find the real problem. It is not so much the call to love that distresses us. It is the call to forgive.
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.” Lent calls us to realize that it is the encounter called forgiveness that is the key. Without it, our eyes stay closed to each other. We cannot recognize and embrace our oneness as both gifted and flawed travelers. To love our enemies, we must cease being enemies. To cease being enemies, we must share forgiveness.
Eternal Father, forgiveness does not always come easily for us. It can be hard for us to let go of our anger and our hurts. We struggle to accept that forgiveness is an act of strength and not a sign of weakness. It takes faith to be forgiving. Lord, help our lack of faith. Teach us to live our hopes and not our fears and to reach out to one another in healing and acceptance as brothers and sisters. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.