Scripture Readings: Leviticus 19.1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3.16-23; Matthew 5.38-48
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ 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 God makes the sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5.43-45
After calling us to be salt and light in our world and contrasting the laws of Moses and the prophets with his new law, Jesus asks us in this Sunday’s gospel to commit to a level of self-giving like his own, to put ourselves at risk to transform the violence and hate others visit on us. These teachings are from Jesus’ sermon on the mount and show Israel’s moral standards evolving not only beyond an eye for an eye but also beyond to the golden rule—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The golden rule makes us the measure of how to treat others. Jesus invites us to take God as our standard, God who makes the sun rise and the evil and the good. To respond to enemies and evil with conscious, gracious, undeserved compassion goes farther. To love our enemies is how a life-giving, loving, merciful God acts.
When have you made a neighbor of a seeming enemy? What capacities do others count on your to bring to conflicts? What is a choice that built up resentment in you?