Gospel Reflection for 24th February
Love your enemies…
Liking something is easy enough; it doesn’t ask too much of us. People like their own favourite biscuits or sweets. The prefer or like their favourite television programme. Loving something or someone is another matter altogether!
In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus asks us to love; not just or even our friends, but to love our enemies. Jesus knows from personal experience that those who are listening to him have more than enough enemies! This is not a reality that is particular to the time of Jesus!
Those whom we don’t like and who do not like us are not limited to the gospels! Jesus is calling his listeners and us to today to a very high standard of living indeed.
Those who follow Jesus, then and now are to love their enemies when the ‘normal’ world reaction is to seek revenge and hit back, whether verbally or physically.
Jesus calls us to a much higher standard. Jesus knows that this is very challenging; it’s easy enough to love those who love us and who are a nice to us. It’s another thing altogether to love those who are our enemies, to bless them and even pray for them!
Some might that say that what Jesus is asking us to do is impossible and even unreasonable! When faced with the literal demands of Jesus in the gospel, we might say, How can I love those who hit me? If someone takes my coat, why would I simply give them another one? What Jesus is asking us to do is simply unfair and not acceptable. Or is it?
During the horrors of World War II, along with millions of others, Fr. Maximillian Kolbe was sent to a concentration camp. When the soldiers wanted to kill another prisoner, Maximillian offered to take his place and to be killed instead of him.
Tradition tells us that before he was murdered, he said to soldier,
‘You may hate me, but you cannot stop me from loving you.’
Mahatma Gandhi spent his whole life working for the independence of India. He pioneered Passive non-violent resistance. No matter what was done to him and followers, they did not react with more violence or hatred. He said, ‘If India attains her independence through violence, I will have nothing to do with it.’ Sadly, because of his powerful example loving his enemies, he was assassinated in 1948.
We are told that charity begins at home; so too does love. We are called to love those in our family with endless love even when and especially when we find this very hard to do!
Rather than react with anger, can we respond with love, forgiveness and compassion as Jesus asks us? We can’t do this on our own; we need to stay close to Jesus and follow his radical example.
Love is the strongest and greatest power in a world that often seems to be filled with violence and hatred. The choice to love or to hate is our choice and decision. As one Christian writer tells us; ‘In the evening of our lives, we will be judged on love alone.’
Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel, Luke 6:17, 27-38
But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you.
And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.
Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.
And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner.
And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this.
And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.
Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.