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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
No one likes to think of themselves as having enemies. It seems like such a drastic label to call someone. But the “enemies” and “those who persecute” who Jesus commands us to love can take many forms. Perhaps it is the person who trolls social media intent on attacking and insulting others. Maybe it is the coworker who seems to go out of his or her way to make our job more difficult. It might be the friend or family member who gossips or shares our private information with the world. It is much easier to wish these people ill—or at the very least not wish them well—than it is to pray for them.
But Jesus sets a high bar for us. He doesn’t say “be fairly good,” or “do a little bit.” He tells us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” No pressure there! Jesus sets this bar for us, knowing that we may fail at times, but reminding us that we shouldn’t stop trying to love those who hurt us, and recognizing that they too are God’s children.
Who is an “enemy” in my life who I can pray for today?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Lord God, you love us even when we fail, and you love all those around us. Help us to treat our “enemies” as friends, and let go of grudges, anger, and hurt. In all that we do, may we try our best to emulate your perfect, all-loving heart.
—The Jesuit Prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!