The Gospel Today
Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Mt. 5: 43-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Reflection (Sem. Emmanuel Calumpong):
There was a story I heard many years ago. A man robbed a bank and took hostages. During the robbery his mask slipped off. He asked one of the hostages, “Did you see my face?” The hostage answered, “Yes” and the robber shot him. Then he asked another hostage, a lady. “Did you see my face?” The lady answered, “No,” but she said further, “My husband did.”
We have the usual tendency to wish something bad to happen to those people whom we dislike. The challenge of being a follower of Christ is that He wants us to do more than what is the usual. In the gospel reading today, He wants us to love the person whom we want to avoid.
This is not an easy thing to do. We often resort to asking ourselves “what if” kind of questions. What if I approach him and he snobs me? What if she mocks me? But loving those we dislike, as Christ has commanded, can only be made on the level of faith and not so much on rational argument. This is the reason why we need to ask for God’s grace in prayer to follow this commandment. Because of our faith, this commandment can also be seen as an opportunity to grow in Christ. It is an occasion to live out the compassion exemplified by Jesus. Suffice it to say, in living this commandment, we try to be perfect just as our Father is perfect.