By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.
On the 7th Sunday of the Year, Series C, we hear one of the more challenging and central teachings of Jesus: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is another example of how Jesus challenges our natural human tendencies.
He is, in effect, telling us to be more like our merciful God, who lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He is telling us to act out of mercy and certainly not in anger and revenge. Our world still badly needs to learn that lesson.
When I read this passage, I stop to consider if I have any enemies. I am not aware of people who are trying to hurt me in any way. We who can say that are blessed. However, if not enemies, there are people who do things that I don’t like and who can stir anger in me. I disagree with them. They do things which seem wrong and unjust. How would Jesus want me to think and act with regard to them? I cannot agree with their behavior. Perhaps I can try to better understand. And I certainly can pray for them. I can be honest about my own faults.
No matter how hard we try to live the Gospel, we will never be in complete agreement with everyone. There will remain evil in the world. We will stumble ourselves once in a while. We will have to leave much up to the mercy of God.
The strong words of Sunday’s Gospel remain an ideal which we may never fulfill in this life. We keep reading and listening and allowing these words to speak to us and slowly transform our lives.