Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Reflection: Matthew 5:43-48
Tuesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus uses extremely strong language in today’s Gospel. He is talking with his disciples and he hits them right where they live. He instructs his disciples that they are to love their enemies. Jesus is being completely countercultural because the society in which Jesus lived was extremely violent. Criminals were nailed to the cross and many other cruel punishments were imposed upon them. In our culture we also punish criminals with the death penalty or life in prison; however, we strive to do it in a somewhat humane way – such as it is.
Not only did Jesus tell his disciples that they should pray for the individuals who persecute them, be that physically or emotionally, but also goes on to say that it is easy to love the individuals who love them. Jesus then challenges his disciples to love everyone. He does not want them to be selective about whom they love. If they don’t love each and every person, they are not much better than any criminal.
Today Jesus is telling us also that we are to love everyone — not just the people who love us. The reality is that we won’t like everyone every day of the week, nor will others like us on some days. Even the individuals we love get on our nerves at times. We do not always agree with them, but if we care about them, we desire to stay in relationship with them. This love that Jesus is speaking about has the ability to rise above the daily irritations, disagreements, and petty arguments. Love can enable us to overcome such encounters. Because of this, we strive to work out the problems and difficulties.
Even though we may not like everyone, we still have the ability to love others – ALL others, even the people we may not like. Today Jesus reminds us that each and every person is lovable – even the one who gets on our very last nerve. Today and every day we have a choice between loving like Jesus did or allowing our emotions to control us and our behavior. What will we choose today?