The Gospel today has been misinterpreted to mean Christians are to lie down and take whatever abuses people throw at us because we are commanded to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Did Jesus really mean that Christians are to meekly accept whatever abuse is thrown at them? We are not called to let others abuse us, but we are called to love our enemies. We are not loving if we tolerate and accept evil. Instead, love is doing what Jesus did when he was falsely accused by the scribes and Pharisees when he was teaching, he defended himself. When he was slapped in his trial, Jesus asked the soldier why he did that.
Jesus defines what love is: do good to our enemies, bless them and pray for those who abuse us. This is divine love. It is a love that gives, that moves outward without waiting for something in return. We do what is good, for the sake of the other person. When we are wronged or when we see some evil, we speak out not in retaliation, but to correct the other.
Jesus said, the sinners love their own and lend to sinners to receive much again. We are called to go beyond this. Love is to go beyond ourselves for the good of others without counting the cost. How? By praying for them and forgiving what they have done. God showed us what love is when he sent his Son to save the world. We do what is good to others, we open our lives to others for their good.
St Paul’s example in the First Reading said knowledge puff up, but love builds up. Love is not based on intellectual knowledge. It is based on one’s giving of one’s self to others, such that if my action causes others to sin, then I also sin because I am not acting in love.
Loving is different from liking. We can love someone we do not like. Love is not a feeling or emotion. It is an act of will. We force ourselves to desire the best for those who have hurt us, even if we do not feel like it. We pray for them even if it repulses us, because this is true love.
Lord, I lay before you that person who has hurt me. I pray you will bless them abundantly and I pray they may come to you and know you. Take away this anger within me and heal me, in Jesus’ name.