“No one is excluded from your love” Reflection for 7th Sunday of the year
If someone asks us: “Have you ever loved and prayed for your enemies?” Perhaps, some of us will answer ‘YES’. But most of us will answer ‘NO’. It is understandable that, loving and praying for our enemies does not make sense with our natural concept and logic. I believe that, it would sound very odd if I said to someone ‘that I love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me’.
However, that is the message that Jesus gives us in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples not to live in accordance with what they have heard and lived in the past: “eye for eye and tooth for tooth; love your neighbour and hate your enemy”. With Jesus, that is the earthly way of living, but which the children of God are not called to follow. Rather, Jesus tells us: love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be children of our Father in heaven. In other words, Jesus is telling us, our enemies and those who persecute us are those most in need of our love and prayer. Jesus distinguishes implicitly between earthly rewards and rewards from God. If we love those who love us, our reward is an increase in their love. However, if we love those who hate us, our reward is an increase in God’s love. For Jesus, we must love one another and no one is excluded from our love.
The story of Nelson Mandela is an echo of what Jesus is telling us today. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in South African prisons. When he was finally released, he had every reason to feel bitter and to take revenge on those who unjustly deprived him of his freedom. Instead, he came out smiling, and seeking reconciliation with the leaders of the regime that had put him in prison. He went on to become the cornerstone of a new South Africa.
That is one of many examples that shows us what love has to do, even in such terrible situation. There is no argument with the existence of evil in the world in which we live. So let us pray that we may not let the evil, force us to fight it with its own weapons, like revenge, hatred. Instead, we fight it with the weapons of God himself: mercy, forgiveness, and love for the ones who have hurt us.
God our Father, in your Son Jesus Christ, you have shown us your tenderness, and accepted us, sinful people, as your sons and daughters. Lord, share your heart with us, make us merciful and understanding people, that we may learn from you, to accept everyone without conditions, to forgive and forget all hurts, so that we become more like you. Amen.