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A God of Love Who Calls Us to Love
Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I open my heart before you in this moment of prayer. I believe that you are here with me and that you have something to say to me. Help me to hear and receive your word with trust and love.
- “I Say to You…” Jesus had something new and impactful to say in today’s passage. Up until this point, the governing rule had been, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24). Indeed, something in our fallen human nature feels satisfied with that justice. Yet that is not the justice that satisfies the heart of God. For what in this passage did Jesus not practice himself? In his very person, he came to establish the New Law and to write it upon our hearts (Ezekiel 36:27), making us capable of living it out by his grace in union with him.
- A Daily Work of Love: Jesus came to show us that the nature of love is always merciful, rooted in the truth, and free. It is not love if it does not forgive. It is not love if it is stingy or judgmental. There are no cutting corners in the love to which we as Christians are called. And though we experience our imperfections daily, our God is, in his very self, the mercy and love to which he calls us. Patiently and lovingly, he wants us to strive a bit more towards the purity of love that he knows will be our only authentic fulfillment.
- Love for God, Love for Others: Christ makes it clear that the treatment we show to others will determine the treatment we ourselves receive. What a clear reminder that God lives within those around us, even our enemies, and that the way we treat them can impact our own capacity to receive God’s love. Where might the Lord be inviting us to open our hearts toward others? Where might he wish to make himself present to others through us?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you ask no small thing of me when you invite me to love as you do, to let my heart be configured to yours, and learn to give, live, and forgive like you. Grant that I may always live in openness before you, receiving your love, so that I can give it and so that you can make yourself present in the world through me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to put into practice a specific expression of charity described in this passage.
For Further Reflection: Read this passage hand in hand with John 13:1-20 to contemplate how Jesus lives this true charity in his own Passion.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.