jesus’ most challenging teaching

the gospel reading at mass today is from luke 6: 27-38; verse 36 is the key to it all: “be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” as humans, we cannot fathom how profound God’s mercy is for each of us. but it is an important aspect of God’s love for us. our faith is to respond in action to this merciful love and God’s grace flows through this love.

this loving mercy opens our ears to the beginning part of jesus’ teaching,

“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.”

and later,

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful

for me, this is one of jesus’ teachings that is the most difficult to do. it is so counter cultural and the opposite of what we usually see and live. the actions are expected from one who follows jesus: to love, do good, bless, and pray.

but for our enemies who hate, curse, and mistreat us?

for minutemen vigilantes who tip over water containers in the desert for famished immigrants who cross the border?

for employers who exploit workers whom they pay under the table?

really jesus? you want us to love, do good, bless, and pray for THEM?

for racist police who beat innocent black men at traffic stops?

for boy scout leaders and priests/pastors from the churches who abuse children?

really jesus? you want us to love, do good, bless, and pray for THEM?

for homeless, mentally ill people who attack random people on the street?

for warmongering world leaders who drop bombs on women and children and displace the rest who flee the violence?

really jesus? you want us to love, do good, bless, and pray for THEM?

for thieves who break into our homes and cars to steal?

for people who mock and get aggressive over mandates to wear masks?

for spouses who verbally and physically abuse their husband or wife?

really jesus? you want us to love, do good, bless, and pray for THEM?

====

who has hated, cursed, and mistreated YOU in your life?

really jesus? you want ME to love, do good, bless, and pray for THEM?

Lord, how can you expect us to do this?

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

will we not later say in the “our Father” prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?” are not these dangerous words meant to open our ears and change our hearts to love more deeply?

what graces from the Holy Spirit do you and i need today to be merciful? how can we embrace jesus’ teaching to love, do good, bless, and pray for our “enemies”?

i pray that the real presence of Christ in the eucharist open our minds and ears to jesus’ most difficult teaching of love. and that our actions bring healing to our wounds and the hurt of others.

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