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Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Opening Prayer: Good Father, I know you love me. I desire to love you and through you love others, both my neighbors and my enemies. Please help me.
- Love Your Enemies: To love our enemies seems impossible, since at times it is difficult enough to love our neighbors as God commands us to do. Consider how Adam blamed his wife, Eve: “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). In turn, Eve blamed the devil: “The snake tricked me, so I ate it” (Genesis 3:13). Since the beginning, it has become part of human nature to blame, to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. How can we be expected to love our enemies? Jesus answered this question: “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). To be obedient to God in this teaching of Jesus requires of us what we cannot produce ourselves: grace. “Grace is first and foremost a gift of the Holy Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us” (CCC 2003).
- Children of the Heavenly Father: Forgiveness of those who persecute us is a prerequisite to loving our persecutors. Jesus explains through the prayer he taught us that to be a child of God, who is Love, means we are merciful to others as we receive mercy from our heavenly Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 9:12). If we forgive our enemies, we are children of the heavenly Father. If we refuse to forgive, we choose to act as children of the father of the world, who is the devil. Beware! Jesus condemned the unbelieving Pharisees: “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires” (John 8:44).
- Be Perfect: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” These words can discourage us because we think it is impossible. How often we fall! Proverbs 24:16 tells us, “Though the just fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble from only one mishap.” Our falling is a given; it is the “rising again” that makes one just. Our ideal is Jesus, who fell three times and who rose three times carrying his cross. Our ideal is Jesus who said as he hung on the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). How can we be perfect? We follow Jesus and do what he does.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I have fallen so many times. I hurt from all the wounds I have caused through my refusal to forgive my enemies. I am sorry. Please help me to see my enemies as you see them. Help me to be merciful as you are merciful. Jesus, I trust in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet today for a person I consider my enemy.
For Further Reflection: Mission of Divine Mercy Homily: The Grace of Forgiving.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.