The Gospel passage we hear today is part of what is known as the Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s Gospel. We typically remember the beatitudes but forget Jesus continued to teach the people God’s message of how we are to act. This passage is full of ideas we struggle with, such as love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you…
These are certainly hard words to live by because they go against our first response. After all, if we consider someone an enemy why would we want to love them? If someone hates you, you don’t want to be around them, much less do good to them. If someone curses you, you certainly don’t feel like giving them a blessing. It’s part of our human makeup to avoid enemies, those who hate us or curse us. Jesus is certainly asking us to do something we find unusual. He is asking us to love as He does. His love is unconditional- He doesn’t demand something from us in order to give us His love. We don’t need to even believe in Him for Him to love us! All we need to do is accept His love.
All we need to do is accept His love- it sounds too good to be true. There has to be some catch, right? It’s like that old saying; “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But not in this case! God offers each of us His unconditional love; we don’t earn this by good deeds or actions, we simply are offered this great gift because we are part of His creation. If we choose not to accept this gift He still loves us.
But God does want us to accept His love and act like Him; to imitate Him. That is how we show our love to God. And part of what He asks of us Jesus spells out in the reading today. So think long and hard about this difficult passage and challenge yourself to love those you struggle to even like. At least take a small step in discerning how you can be more like God in this manner. And may God bless your efforts.