Daily Reflection – 6/18/19
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 only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 43-48)
Life in our world has many sorts of enmity. Enmities between a husband and wife on the brink of divorce, bullies and their victims, a person betrayed by a friend, and more. Enmities between nations at war or adversaries in civil war. Between cheaters and cheated, criminals and victims. Among the wealthy and among the poor, and between rich and poor. Whatever the sort, only two options occur to me as possible for those embroiled in enmity. Let it be, or deal with it. There really isn’t any “in between.”
Letting an enmity be will likely make it worse. Recrimination will increase. Old hurts will get bruised and new ones will be perpetrated.
Dealing with the enmity requires both parties to turn their faces to one another and listen. Each needs to acknowledge to the other their own responsibility for the division, and to forgive the hurt and misunderstanding the other has caused — more or less in that order. When all this takes root — on both sides — genuine reconciliation, which consists of deep-down mutual forgiveness, becomes a real possibility. But sometimes it will occur only with the grace of God. If that is the case, then both sides will benefit from praying for the grace to reconcile.
For reconciliation to stick, the process needs to grow towards mutual love. This is more than mutual tolerance or respect. To come to a point of praising, revering, and serving an enemy one needs to experience the mutual forgiveness and healing which reconciliation makes possible. Then, as reconciliation flourishes, union of hearts and minds becomes a desired goal to work for, and the love that results will abide. When union and love are achieved, they become the doorway to peace, deep and enduring peace — which is the polar opposite of enmity. This is a tall order, but at least we can try. For, as Christians, we are Christ for others. We teach others the way to live by our words and actions; in doing so, we reveal God. In other words, being “perfect” really means being Torah for others, showing others how God is faithful and how he has a loving concern for the world.
Prayer of The Day
Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love, in your great tenderness wipe away my offences; wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin (Psalm 51)
By telling us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” our Lord is saying we have an opportunity to become fully human by imitating the loving qualities of God. Such a conversion has many implications. It cannot be an individual affair with God. If we are to emulate the type of selfless love that radiates from God, the true hallmark of our conversion will be our ability to conduct ourselves in ways that allow our words and our deeds to show others the love of God.