Jesus continues to move through the countryside, attracting large numbers of people who gather to hear him preach and teach. The message from Jesus is clear and yet foreign. Clear in that Jesus does not mince words: “Love your enemy, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.”
Really? Yes! Jesus is calling us to raise ourselves up to be the person he intended we be. Created in God’s image, we are to be instruments of love to all, even to those who wish us harm. That’s a pretty foreign way for us to live, something that the people of the time of Jesus struggled with and something we all struggle to achieve today. Scripture tells us that many people walked away from Jesus refusing to accept his teaching. It seems that too, is happening in our world today. How am I to love my enemy, one who wants only to hurt and condemn me? How am I to love someone who hates or distains me? And to those who curse or speak ill of me, how am I to love?
The how comes in the form of grace, a gift freely given from God, received in our baptism through the Holy Spirit. Grace is God’s life within us. Grace is what we need to become strong enough to let go of the ways of the world and cling to the promises of God; the promise of eternal life.
Therein lies the why. Why would I want to love those who do not love me? God calls us, challenges us and sends his Son to teach us and the Holy Spirit to strengthen us; that we might one day be with him forever.
Will it be easy? No. Even with the gift of grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit with us we will need to be deliberate and make continual effort to grow in love for all of God’s people. Jesus was challenging the people who gathered with him on the mountainside and Jesus challenges us today in the Word and in our hearts as we hear that Word proclaimed.
Let us thank God for his presence in our lives and let us together pray that we can grow in love and wisdom and grace that we might become true followers of Christ who can live and proclaim love to all people, even our enemies.
With hope in His promise,
October 17, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC