Today’s Gospel ought to shock all of us into another orbit. One of Jesus’ most difficult teachings and expectations is made known. How have we heard the point “treat others as we would want to be treated”? Probably many times. But treating others is the least we can do. Jesus opens the horizon a bit more by saying that we have to love our enemies; we are to show mercy to others. Mercy is not a one time event; it is a perpetual way of living; it is a way of living without conditions. Catholics can’t say this is the first time for hearing this Gospel. Love of enemies is what sets true believers from those who really don’t (or can’t). Do we really think that we can live by the words of the Living God without the Living God alive in us?
I think it is reasonable to follow what the Pope has indicated in thinking of the connection of the love for our enemies impoverishing us, because it makes us poor like Jesus who was made flesh and has shown us the true face of God. Jesus’ lowering of himself is one those pivotal points in salvation of history that we can’t avoid keeping in mind on a daily basis. A new insight into what mystery of our salvation is –is revealed anew.
Of course, we need to ask what love is. One working definition is that love is having concern for another’s destiny.
In this morning’s Mass in Rome, Pope Francis said:
We too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy … we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us! We leave this to the cloistered nuns, who are holy, we leave this for some holy soul, but this is not right for everyday life. But it must be right! Jesus says: ‘No, we must do this! Because otherwise you will be like the tax collectors, like pagans. Not Christians.’
Pray! This is what Jesus advises us: ‘Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray!’. And say to God: ‘Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love.’ Let me just ask this question and let each of us answer it in our own heart: ‘Do I pray for my enemies? Do I pray for those who do not love me?’ If we say ‘yes,’ I will say, ‘Go on, pray more, you are on the right path! If the answer is’ no ‘, the Lord says:’ Poor thing. You too are an enemy of others!’. Pray that the Lord may change the hearts of those. We could say: ‘But this person really wronged me’, or they have done bad things and this impoverishes people, impoverishes humanity. And following this line of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others. Just as the poverty of Jesus became the grace of salvation for all of us, great wealth … Let us think today at Mass, let us think of our enemies those who do not wish us well: it would be nice if we offered the Mass for them: Jesus, Jesus’ sacrifice, for them, for those who do not love us. And for us too, so that the Lord teaches us this wisdom which is so hard, but so beautiful, because it makes us look like the Father, like our Father: it brings out the sun for everyone, good and bad. It makes us more like the Son, Jesus, who in his humiliation became poor to enrich us, with his poverty.