The Gospel Today
Saturday of the First Week of Lent
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. Al Pestaño):
When I was in grade school I had this classmate who loved to bully our class. Most of the time he succeeded in bullying but there were also times that he would lose. But he would not stop when he lost, he would continue to bully the person who overpowered him even if it would take days for him to get even. Yes, to get even, that was what he wanted. He continued with that attitude even until we graduated in elementary. A few years ago, I met him again and we talked about those things that he did when we were in grade school. He was smiling as we recalled those days and he said that he realized his attitude only when he was about to graduate high school. He said that during those times he really found it difficult to forgive and for him the name of the game then was to get even or to retaliate in any way. He felt unhappy then because he did not have any friends. His classmates would always stay away from him to avoid troubles. But later on he said, when he started to court a girl in the university, he started to change his attitude. He decided to change because he realized that he loved the girl so much and for the girl to love him, he needed to change for the better. This girl whom he courted became his wife and now they have three lovely children.
To change our ways is an act of the will. It is a decision that one has to take for him to become a better person. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is challenging all of us to change our ways by doing something extraordinary, and what it is, to love our enemies. It is very usual for us to love those people whom we like; the people whom we get easily along with; those who passed according to our taste. But what it is for us to do those things. Even hardened sinners can also do the same. Even the most unholy person can love the person who loves him. The invitation of Jesus is to do differently in loving other people and this is by loving even our enemies. When Jesus said “to love our enemies” He is inviting us to live the way He lives. To do the things the way Jesus had done it. Jesus loves all. There are no distinctions between these “all” in its strictest sense. Lahat ay minamahal ng Diyos at wala syang sinisino!
The love of enemies can also be applied to us. They say that the worst enemy one can have is his own self. Today we are also being invited to look at ourselves and be in good terms with our own self. Sometimes, the reason why people are having difficulty in forgiving and loving others, is because he has not forgiven himself or has not loved himself.
Today we pray that we may love all, even our enemies, even those who hate us. We pray that each of us may be enlightened and have the strength and courage to do differently, the way Jesus has done it – loving everybody even those who hate and persecute us. We also pray for that we may come to terms with our own self that we may forgive our own self, and we may love our self. Through this, we may be able to love others the way we love ourselves. And in loving ourselves and our neighbors, we can truly say that we love God who guides us so that we may become perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.