Are you rich? Most people would probably answer no to that question. They think of only worldly riches. As Christians, we think differently. We think in terms of blessings. We only come by those blessings through Christ’s poverty. In today’s first reading from 2 Corinthians 8, St. Paul puts it like this: “For your sake he [Christ] became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew 5, Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He then goes on to ask some rhetorical questions. “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not 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.”
The Christian life is hard. Jesus never said it would be easy. This whole “love your enemy” thing, “be perfect”…this is hard stuff. But there is great reward in doing the hard stuff. In this sense, the spiritual life is much like the physical. If you want to be healthy and strong, you have to work at it. The hard work pays off. But there’s no reward for easy.
Father, give us the grace to do the hard work of our Christian walk, for we know it will pay off in the end. Amen.