Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
LOVE YOUR ENEMY
St. Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said,‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
In this section of the Sermon on the Mount we see the last in a series of six statements – ‘you have heard… but what I tell you’, give the law a more radical and inward dimension. These are the principles of radical relationship and transformed life style. Based on these revolutionary teachings of Jesus, we may focus on two things regarding our relationships. In loving others we have to overcome the principle of restrictiveness: Jesus, very emphatically undermines the traditional concept of love relation by introducing a new and quite unprecedented concept of love your enemies – a radical command to love the unloved. It’s a fact that we are very selective in our relations and often tempted to confine our connections to our own set boundaries. Here Jesus is drawing a demarcation between restrictive love and universal love. The Old Testament background of love your neighbor (Lev.19:18) is love in restrictive sense. In fact, it was against hating, taking vengeance and bearing a grudge. But the command there is only to love ones neighbor – to maintain their kinship or ethnic solidarity. Jesus is calling us to break all such barriers and go to the extreme extend of loving ones enemy. You have to rise above your own personal petty animosities, in the interest of the wider community of people of God.
In loving others we have to overcome the principle of reciprocity: Jesus is asking two important questions. If you love those who love you what reward will you get? If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? This is nothing but the principle of reciprocity and Jesus wants us to go beyond that. We need to overcome the ‘Tit for tat doctrine.’ Our love must be deep rooted and sacrificial. Jesus calls us to maturity that result in much God-like behaviors and motivations. He sets forth God’s vision of God’s world, where love, genuine and unconditional reigns. We may think these are impossible goals hindered by human limitations. But God has given us the potentials to go beyond our limits to God’s realm of perfection - the ability to forgive our tormentors and the capacity to pray for those who persecute us. Let us continue to pray that God may give us grace to forgive others heartily and thereby to build a harmonious community.
After the Arizona tragedy on January 8, 2011 where nine people were shot dead in a market place near Tucson, President Obama made a moving and emotional speech consoling the relatives of the victims. In that speech he made a profound statement for restraint and an attitude of forgiveness. He said, “ It is important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”.
Prayer: Heavenly father, give us the grace to love the world as God has loved us – fully, richly, abundantly and completely. Amen
Rev. Joseph Johnny, New York St. Thomas