Today’s gospel brings us to the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. Bishops’ website commentary follows.
Gospel Acclamation Jn 13:34
I give a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you, says the Lord.
Gospel Matthew 5:43-48
Love your enemies.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Gospel Reflection Tuesday, Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time Matthew 5:43-48
Unconditional love does not come naturally to us. We tend to love people when certain conditions are fulfilled. This even applies to the most intimate of human loves. In particular, we expect those we love to love us in return. If they do not, our love for them can easily wane. In the gospel reading, Jesus speaks of God’s love as a love without conditions attached. God does not only love those who love him. Rather God loves ‘bad as well as good’, those who return God’s love and those who do not. In this consists God’s perfection, according to Jesus. God is perfect in that his love is unconditional and, therefore, embraces all. What makes distinctions between people is how they respond to God’s love, the extent to which they allow God’s love to transform them. In the gospel reading, Jesus calls on us all to be perfect as God is perfect, to love unconditionally in the way God does, and that will mean loving even our enemies, those who would wish us harm. There are outstanding examples among Jesus’ followers of this kind of indiscriminate love. Such people are often to be found in the setting of war, [conscientious objectors, affected civilians] precisely in the context of being badly treated by their enemies. They are an inspiration to us. They show us what perfection, what holiness, looks like. They remind us of the good we are all capable of, with the Lord’s help, even in the face of evil.
The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONS: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie