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Monday, June 16, 2014

Enemies

"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.'" Mt 5: 43-44

No passage in the Gospel tells us more about the radical demands of the Gospel than Jesus' command that we love our enemies. The laws of hospitality which the rabbis taught were strict. Because Israel was a desert land populated by nomads, travelers and strangers had to be welcomed, and this custom was rooted in memory. Jews had been strangers themselves and depended on the hospitality of others as they sought the promised land. The prophet Isaiah also reminds his readers to feed the hungry lavishly. Jews could have not doubts that the Torah wanted them to care for others as God had cared for them in their wanderings.

Nevertheless, Jesus' demand that we love our enemies interprets the Torah in a much more radical way and pushes Christians even further. It is one thing to welcome strangers and offer them a bit of bread, it is another altogether to love those who attack you or with whom you have been at war. If God's love for us is going to be announced clearly and dramatically, then Christians have to go the extra mile and let go of our resentments and desire for vengeance in order that God can be known.

Today, love someone who has hurt you.

Who has lived the Gospel most powerfully for you?


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