Love your neighbour
Saturday Week One of Lent Reading: Matthew 5: 43-48
You have heard how it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.
As we enter ever more deeply into the season of Lent, we are asked to reflect ever more deeply on the authenticity of our love and loving. So often, we are reminded of the great commandment of love and the need to live this love each day. Now we are faced with the demands and cost of this loving and when we are really honest with ourselves, this challenges us more than we might like. Love of enemies is not something that comes naturally to us; ‘the enemy’ may not be a major adversary but the person who irritates us deeply in the nitty gritty of everyday life. It may be the person that we find it difficult to relate to in our family, community or workplace. There may be an unresolved conflict between us or an unacknowledged jealousy that eats away at the soul of one or other of us. A previous misunderstanding may never have been resolved and it has grown out of proportion because there has never been an opportunity to talk through and resolve the issue. Resentment has taken the place of love and now we are at loggerheads. Peace of soul of both persons has been destroyed and we may be at a loss as to how to be reconciled. We are now called to move beyond this hardness of heart and to be restored to right relationship with this other child of God. We are asked to ‘Rid yourselves, therefore of all malice and all guile, insincerity, envy and all slander.’ (1 Peter 2:1) We are reminded that God loves all people equally with total unconditional love and we are asked to do the same. This is the perfection that God seeks for all of his people so that we ‘may live peaceably with all.’ (Romans 12:18) We are reminded that we have been graced by God and ‘are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ (1 Peter 2:9) Prayer
I ask for the grace to love as you would have me love;
Forgive me for the times when the cold ice of un-forgiveness
has settled on my soul.
Heal all whom I may hurt by an unkind word, an omission of kindness or an unresolved misunderstanding; Flood the souls of all whom I have hurt with your healing peace O Divine Son of God, Amen.