Have you ever read a really good book, and the one character that keeps you on edge is the villain? I know for myself, I'm always rooting for the bad guy, the one that you know is going to be changed by the end of the story. We root for this person because we can relate, we're all in some place of hurting sinfulness that's in need of redemption. We all long for that feeling of freedom and happiness. We all want to love and be loved, yet we find it hard to see this in other people around us, not cutting slack when someone is down and expecting too much. As faithful disciples, we need to first focus inwards and seek to change ourselves to make a true impact in the world. Remember the phrase W. W. J. D!
Today's Gospel states:'"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:43-48).
Today's Gospel talks about how we need to show love to everyone, especially those who, to us, may need to have a personality change. We need to evangelize, to take that step and pray for those who persecute us, show kindness to the person who is constantly rude to us. It may not be our first desired reaction, but in the long run, it will not only benefit you, but that kindness will help them to feel enlightened, loved. Do you show love to your neighbour? Take some time to ask God to help you love everyone, especially the enemy.
Today's prayer comes from 'Knowing Jesus'a prayer to God for my enemies:
Loving Father, thank You for the example of Jesus Who cried, Father forgive … on the cross. Help me to be one that freely and willingly prays forgiveness over those who are my enemies, and those - who for whatever reason dislike or try to harm me.
Lord I thank You that even the people in our lives who despise and ill-use us have a divine purpose in Your perfect plan – in that it drives us back into Your arms of love, so that we may lift them up to Your throne of grace in prayer – asking for their forgiveness and salvation and releasing in us any pent-up hatred or bitterness - that is so damaging to our souls and well-being.
Forgive my enemies Lord and all those who have tried to hurt or harmed me…Look down in pity on all those who I term ‘enemies’ and give me the grace to show them the love of Christ in my actions and attitudes towards them. Keep my thoughts from becoming resentful or seeking revenge but rather release in my heart the peace that only comes from casting all my cares on You – including my enemies.
Give me the grace, not only to truly forgive all my enemies but also to bless those who persecute me – for in so doing I see a dim reflection of Your enormous grace towards me – for which I praise and thank You in Jesus blessed name,