Today’s first reading is an interesting conclusion to the story of Ahab and Jezebel. God sends Elijah to tell them of how He was going to punish them because of their deception and murder of Naboth. Things did not look pretty for this nasty pair. But after hearing of his fate, Ahab repents. God acknowledges his repentance and relents in His punishment. Be sure to read how that story turns out.
The Sermon on the Mount is filled with tough teachings. Today’s may be the toughest of all. (Of course, we can say that about nearly every verse!) “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Jesus doesn’t expect us to just blindly follow this command. He gives us sound reasoning as to why we must do this. “For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” What does Jesus mean by this?
We’re all people. We have an amazing ability to dehumanize others. Our enemies become terrible monsters, not real people. We forget that they, too, have moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. That they undergo the very same struggles that we do. It’s much easier to hate or mistreat someone who isn’t like you. But when it comes right down to it, we’re all the same. Children of God. When we recognize that fact, when we begin to see others, especially our enemies, as fellow children of God, it becomes easier to love them. And the more we love others, the closer we grow to those words of Jesus to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Father, forgive us for the times when we dehumanize others. Help us to realize that we all share in the common struggles of life, and that you love us all. Amen.