Love Your Enemies?

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19 June 2018

One of the shocking things about the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matt 5 – 7) is the radical nature of Jesus’ language. With breathtaking self-confidence, Jesus takes a well-known principle within the Jewish tradition and, using himself as the authority, redirects its meaning into a more radical form. He uses the extraordinary refrain, ‘You have learnt how it was said…., but I say to you….’

For example, from today’s Gospel,

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way, you will be sons of your Father in heaven.

Loving your neighbour is hard enough, but ‘love your enemies’? That’s a logical impossibility!

It is true (and it helps to know) that Jesus’ teaching here is for those who have chosen to be His disciples (Matt 5.1-2). It underlines just how radical the call to Christian discipleship is.

The key is the phrase ‘your Father in heaven’.

Only when you know that God really is your Father does this teaching make any sense or get anywhere near possible. God’s presence is heaven and you, by His amazing grace, are heading towards Him, so start living with a heaven mindset now. There are no enemies in heaven, only dear, dear friends. That being so, as far as the disposition of our hearts is concerned, we’re not allowed enemies here on Earth!

At every Mass, we pray, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” Our job as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father is to be the instruments through which His heaven is released onto the Earth. So today, filled with the love of your heavenly Father, pray for those who persecute you.

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