Loving others, whoever they are...
Reflections on the readings for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 23, 2020): LV 19:1-2,17-18; PS 103:1-2,3-4,8,10,12-13; 1 COR 3:16-23; MT 5:38-48
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
In the Gospel for this final Sunday before Lent, Jesus is exhorting His disciples to understand the true meaning of love.
He is talking about our relationship with others – both those who are near-and-dear to us, and all the others, besides. Christ said, “You have heard that is 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” (Matthew 5:43-45). We may think that God is asking too much of us; that it may be a fine and lofty spiritual goal to love enemies and persecutors, but few people could possibly succeed. But that is because we are viewing the world through human eyes. Jesus goes on to say that just as our Father cares for those who are good and just, He also provides for those who are bad and unjust. He loves each one of His children and will never give up on any of us until our dying breath – unless we give up on ourselves.
Our Lord never asks us to condone evil. Rather, He calls us to love all people because that is what He does for every person. Love is far more than sentiment. It certainly does not mean liking or agreeing with others. If we want to understand the depth and breadth of God’s love then we need to follow His Son all the way to the cross and the tomb and beyond. If we want to embrace the Risen Christ, we need to accept all the moments of life, the joy and sorrow, the pain and the peace. And we need to value our brothers and sisters, one by one, whether is it oh-so-easy or brutally hard. God is love and if we want to share in His divine life then we choose love.