Fr Paul Gooley reads today from the Gospel of Matthew (5: 43-48) in which Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ and invites us to strive be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. Fr Paul says today’s Gospel theme is to pray for those who persecute you. In today’s Gospel we are presented with the last of the six standards in the Sermon on the Mount. Just like the first, this too is about love. Nowhere in the scripture does it say ‘you must hate your enemy’, but Jesus was given to making his point by means of huge contrasts. In the same way he says that no one can be his disciple without hating father and mother (Luke 14.26), which has to be understood as putting Christ before father and mother – if such a decision should have to be made – rather than as positively hating them. In any case, here Jesus is teaching that we must love all people unreservedly. The Old Testament law in Leviticus (19.18) had prescribed to love your neighbour as yourself. The word there used for ‘neighbour’ widens family love to include the whole people of God but does not go beyond that. Here Jesus widens it further, to all the recipients of the Father’s rain, good and bad, honest and dishonest, so not just the Chosen People. As Christians, we must make a point of initiating the repairing of any breakdowns in relationships. There are two further dimensions to this series of six standards of the Mosaic Law. First, by putting unlimited love at the beginning and end of the series of six Matthew forms a sort of bracket which implies that love is the theme and common factor of all six standards. Secondly, the series ends with the staggering demand, ‘you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’. A similar demand is made only once in the whole of the Gospels, to the rich young man in Matthew 21.19, ‘if you will be perfect…’ How absolute this requirement of love is, however, is made plain at the Cross, where Jesus’ final words are ‘It is perfected, it is consummated’ or as we commonly hear ‘It is accomplished’(John 19.30). Fr Paul invites us to reflect on today’s Gospel Lesson – Lent is a time to love others unreservedly.