In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 26, agreements are made. The people make an agreement with God, to walk in his ways, obey his commandments and hearken to his voice. And God makes an agreement with the people, that they will be “peculiarly his own.” In the Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Are you kidding me?? As Christians, we know these commands. But that does not make them any easier to follow. After all, our enemies don’t deserve love! And those rats who persecute us don’t deserve our prayers! Right? Well, let’s do a little “deserving check” here. Did Jesus deserve to die for our sins? Are you deserving of God’s love? Do you deserve to be forgiven by those you hurt?
We have to remember that love is a verb. We don’t have to “feel” some sort of emotional love for our enemies. But we do have to love them. We must treat them with respect because they, too, are children of God. They, like us, have feelings and families and hopes and dreams. One of the greatest sins we can commit is to dehumanize someone. And all too often, that is what we do with our enemies. Pray today that God will give us the grace to love, even when we don’t feel like it.
Father, we are so undeserving of your love, and yet you pour it out upon us every moment. Help us today to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. Amen.