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"Love Your Enemies"
March 12 Readings Reflection: Saturday of the First Week of Lent
In today’s Gospel, Jesus lays forth how Christians should treat their enemies in the New Law. The New Law has been called the Law of Love, because it is based on the two Great Commandments, which are to love God and neighbor. Jesus says that loving one’s neighbor must also extend to one’s enemies as well.
As humans, we have a desire to love and be loved. However, when we feel that our love is not reciprocated, it becomes much harder to love that person; it requires a conscious — often difficult — act of the will to continue loving that person, and when someone has wronged us in some way, it becomes even harder.
While Jesus says we must love our enemies, He then goes further, commanding us to “pray for those who persecute [us].” This takes it to that more difficult psychological level of loving, for this involves those who have done something to hurt us, whether accidentally or deliberately.
To love is to will the good of another. While we often associate it with an emotion, true love is deeper than that: it lies in the will. Loving one’s enemies usually does not involve any type of emotion, at least none that are positive; however, Jesus calls us to set aside our negative emotions and make a firm act of the will to desire the good of our enemies and to pray for them.
We cannot do it without God’s grace, which sets us apart from the unbelievers, the tax collectors and pagans that Jesus mentioned. We are called to be perfect and to love perfectly; if our love does not extend to everyone, we cannot truly say that we love perfectly.