7th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Love of Enemies (Mt 5:38-48)

02-19-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Bing Colasito

The theme of the readings today is the commandment to “love our enemies” - a demand that contradicts the secular wisdom of the world and appears extremely difficult to fulfill. Indeed, without help from God, it would be hard; we need faith to embrace this commandment. To many, it is easier to tolerate or disregard one’s enemies than to maintain a relationship with them. How do we love our enemies? What Jesus wants to teach us here demands not our strength and goodness but the love and holiness of GOD. Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, Am Holy. When God says: You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart, He is giving us a guideline on how to pursue holiness when the emotion of anger comes up. 

The challenge in Christian holiness is how to love our brothers and sisters who have wronged us and who have treated us as enemies. How to conquer our hatred and turn it into love? The change begins when we step back from the offense and the offender and remember that we also offended God - yet He does not deal with us the way our sins deserve. God deals with our sins - and gives a model of how we ought to deal with those who offended us. As disciples, we serve as a contradiction to the world when we practice the love of our enemies. As I said in my Homily last Sunday, Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world: Christians are like a thermostat - they set the culture of their environment.

When we live by the standards of the world, we tend to glorify ourselves at the expense of others. Love is egoistic and self-centered – everyone promotes self-interest, self-worth, self-absorption, and self-actualization. When we indulge in this, anybody who differs from our beliefs becomes enemies. The enemies can be our spouses, family members, friends, or anyone who interferes with our self-will. God knows how prone we are to indulge in this kind of behavior, so He tirelessly reminds us of the way of love and the love of our neighbor. The love of neighbor is an expression of our love of God. If we love God and are determined to follow His ways, we discover that our enemies are opportunities to fulfill our call and to be like Him.

Let us take the road of love, not hatred, and the road of forgiveness, not vengeance. Go the extra mile with a smile. Remember: The minimum of love is justice, but beyond justice is love. How do we do this? Love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and love not only those who love us. It is difficult to love our enemies, but that is how to be a Christian disciple.

The world tells us that the brave are tough and rough, who kill, and who are not afraid to die. For Jesus, the brave are those who are willing to give in, to lose, and to make a sacrifice. Something to reflect on, 1.) Focus more on the love in our hearts and less on the work of our hands. Do not forget the love of our hearts, God. 2.) Focus on being expressive and less on being impressive. Forget what people think or say. Focus on what God thinks or says. 3.) Focus more on being the passenger and less on being the driver. God is the driver. Hand Him over the wheel, and obey, trust, and believe He knows the way. Let go. Let God. A refrigerator sticker captures this: Remember, there is a God, and you’re not him.