Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 5: 38-48
The help of God’s amazing grace! Since the Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount three weeks ago, the succeeding Gospels have dealt with further explanation of the meaning of that teaching. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching is clear and hard to follow. He tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” In other words, if we want to be perfect, we must start by loving our enemies.

Ouch! Asking too much? Of course, it is. It’s beyond human power alone, but Jesus doesn’t leave us alone to love as he loves. He walks this narrow, difficult way in front of us and beside us. That was the lesson of Good Friday when he suffered and died for us. He has given us his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation, and the help of the Holy Spirit. He wants to shower us with his grace and blessings.

Charity, service, good and kind thoughts, forgiveness, love for our enemies and prayer for those who dislike us are behaviors key to living the Christian life. By the world’s standards, these behaviors are “crazy” and “nonsense.” According to the world’s thinking, we should be concentrating on “watching out for Number 1” and “getting even.”

However, as Christians, as his followers, Jesus challenges us to be more and to do more. Jesus wants us to stop the cycle of evil and to break through the violence. “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (Rom 12:21) It all boils down to one commandment: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (Jn 13:34)

A verse from the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says,

“The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.”

Thank you, heavenly Father, for your love. Help us to accept your transforming grace and to strive toward the holiness and perfection to which you are calling us.