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.”
Can we be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect?
Last night, while I sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I read today’s readings and this line stood out for me. As I gazed on our Lord, I wondered what this could mean. Surely, God knows we’re not perfect, and how can we be perfect, just as an act of will, as the sentence seems to command.
Then it occurred to me that everything in this passage speaks of what we should DO – Love, pray, greet.
Our society tend to think of LOVE as a feeling, but it is a verb, too. I remember when I was dating my husband and was contemplating being married and the insolubility of that vow. I realized that love is not only a feeling, but a choice.
I choose to love my husband for the rest of my life. Not only when he’s being romantic and life is good, but in the bad times, the rough spots, the times he drives me absolutely out of my mind. I may be frustrated with him. I may be annoyed at his behavior. I may be saddened when he lets me down, but through it all I will love him. I may not feel it at that moment, but I didn’t vow to love him only when the feeling was there. I said, “For better or worse, until death do us part.” I CHOOSE to love.
I think this passage says that we are to choose to love our enemies. Choose to forgive. Choose to do good and to pray. The feelings might not be there, but I see nothing in this passage that says you must feel love for someone who hates you.
I think because God is Love, when we choose to love, we are a step closer to the perfect we have been commanded to be.