Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Anne O’Brien, Leader of Mission Integration for St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads and reflects on the Gospel of Matthew (5: 38-42) in which Jesus tells his disciples ‘Give to anyone who asks and if anyone wants to borrow do not turn away’.
Anne notes it is a very challenging Gospel we hear today… ‘Love your enemies, give to anyone who asks’. Our faith in Christ should affect every aspect of our lives. It should affect all our interactions: in our family, in community, in communicating with others (even our enemies). It should influence all our relationships.
All people are called to ministry and because we are ministers of God, we have more reason to be aware of our behaviour. We ought to mind our behaviour in all areas of our lives. In all our interactions with others we must remember that we are Christ’s ministers here on earth. We must be mindful of how we speak, how we behave and how we might be perceived. We all make choices everyday on the way we behave and those choices matter; how we behave towards our enemies, matters.
We must realise that we don’t have the power to change others; we only have the power to change ourselves.
Anne says Jesus is putting the highest ideals on us. We waive our rights for the benefit of others. No revenge. No retaliation. When Jesus was struck on the face at his trial by one of the police, he calmly asked the culprit, ‘Why do you strike me?’
Love your enemies! Here, too, Jesus calls for our generosity: give, share, lend. When somebody is looking for help do not pass by the other side as did the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Pope Francis also calls us not to ignore anyone begging in the street and says the way one reaches out to people looking for help must be done by looking them in the eye and actually touching their hands.
As we go through our daily lives, Anne says, we will all challenged by the call we have heard in today’s Gospel. It is not easy so, she says, so let’s pray together for the strength and the courage of Jesus to live up to this challenge; to be true ministers of Christ here on earth, in our Parish, and in our Community.
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