Saturday of the First Week of Lent
DT 26: 16-19
PS 119:1-2, 4
MT 5: 43-48
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jesus lays down controversy today in the Gospel. He tells “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Isn’t it hard enough to love the people who love us? I find myself struggling to love everyone that I claim that I do love. How many times do we find ourselves angry and selfish with our families and friends; not wanting to do something for them? I certainly find myself doing this quite often. It is a challenge! Now Jesus tells us that that isn’t even good enough. He wants us to love those who hate us.
“Ok Jesus… yeah right man. Not gonna happen. Too tough. I already am putting so much effort into trying to love my family and friends more selflessly and that is exhausting enough! I can’t add on more people to the love list.”
Jesus’ statement is such a tough one for us to hear that the readings leading up to it are all about how important it is to obey God’s laws and statutes and that we must “observe them with all our heart and with all our soul.” Even in the responsorial psalm we say “blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord”. And we say it 4 times… so yeah… we definitely need to follow God’s laws and this is a big law! We know that we cannot follow this law without the Lord’s help. Even in the responsorial psalm, we beg the Lord not to abandon us. We need God. We need to pray to him daily. We need to make him a priority to the best of our abilities. We need to bring ourselves as close to God as possible. How else could we love our enemies if we do not have a relationship with the One who showed us better than anyone else how to do it.
St. Francis has a brilliant prayer that captures the essence and challenge of this Gospel. Let us reflect on it, slowly.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”