“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.
I think that today’s Gospel passage is a very timely one for our country. It seems that as a nation, we are so eager to point out people who are against something. In other words, I think that we are eager to identify our enemies. That’s not all bad, since I need to know who someone is so that I can love them more deeply.
So who are your enemies? If you’re like me, a few faces come to mind more quickly than I’d like. Here’s the kicker: Jesus invites me to imagine that person enjoying a beautiful sunrise and soaking up a refreshing spring rain. Jesus doesn’t simply want me to love humanity at a distance, but to love individual people close up.
Why? Because this is how God loves. Today, Jesus invites us to see the world in the same way: to see with Beatific vision.
—Matthew Stewart, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province preparing for priestly ordination in August.
A Prayer for My Enemies
God of Consolation,
You make the sun rise and the rain fall on all your children—
on me, on those I struggle with, and on those who struggle with me.
Give me your eyes, so that I might see them as you see them:
as Your beloved, and not my enemy.
Give me the grace to pray for what they need from you.
Give me the strength to love You in them.
—Matthew Steward, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!