Today’s Gospel reading is an amazing passage of scripture. In this passage Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of what a life based on love looks like.
Now I know what many of you are thinking. That’s impossible! We can’t live like that. It demands too much of us. Who can love their enemies, do good to those who hate them, pray for those who mistreat them? I mean, besides Jesus. He certainly did each of those things. But can we? Can we love like Jesus loved? I believe we can. Maybe not perfectly–after all, we’re not Jesus. But we can do better than we’re doing.
Jesus’ entire philosophy of life was based on love. This is the important truth you simply cannot miss. Do you see what Jesus is trying to do in today’s Gospel? He is giving his listeners a new picture of what their lives should look like. Jesus was surrounded by a huge crowd. This crowd included Jewish citizens and members of the Jewish ruling class, the Pharisees. It also included folks from Tyre and Sidon, pagan cities that practiced Baal worship, and Roman troops who exploited and oppressed the Jews. These folks were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their enemies as Jesus spoke.
When Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . .” he was introducing them to a whole new way of looking at life. This is how things work in the Kingdom of God, Jesus was saying to them. Jesus’ entire philosophy of life was rooted in love.
I am constantly amazed how many Christians miss that truth. There’s a reason for that, of course. Maybe we have never really listened to the teachings of Jesus. Notice how Jesus begins this teaching: “But to you who are listening love your enemies . . .” That’s interesting. “To you who are listening . . .” Not everybody is listening, are they?
Let us open our ears, our minds, and our hearts to the teachings of Christ. We are called to risk being generous with our love and forgiveness. We are called to be light for the kingdom.