“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Today’s Gospel is familiar, and you may be tempted to think that you know it well and have no need to ponder it too closely. But the reality is that Jesus is offering a handful of challenging and powerful lessons to all Christian disciples. First, we should expect to be insulted and we are never to seek retaliation for the evil we encounter. Second, our rights and material goods come from God and are not ours to possess; we must be prepared to hand them over at any point. Third, it is our duty to do as we are asked to the utmost of our ability; there is no room for under achieving. Fourth, we are to freely and graciously give to those in need.
Period. Fifth, we are to love one another without discrimination and we are to will the good of others, particularly those we are tempted to hate; no man can genuinely pray for another and go on hating him. Love your enemies, easier said than done, no doubt. But, remember, the foundation of Stewardship is prayer. When we are in close communication with God, it opens our heart and it turns our attention away from “me” and moves it toward God and others. It allows us to have a little more empathy for “our enemy”. When we pray for others, even “our enemies”, maybe it softens their hearts as well. In closing, Jesus calls His disciples to “be perfect” like our heavenly Father. We find our perfection in forgiving and loving as God does, and we can only be fully alive when we strive for such perfection.