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26th February 2021, Year B Saturday of the first week of Lent

Dt 26:16-19 Psalm 119:1-2.4-5.7-8 Mt 5:43-48 The Gospels readings of yesterday and today offer us a new interpretation of the Mosaic law. Jesus does not reject the old law but gives it a new meaning and invites his followers to go further, to do more than others, to have a specific character which distinguishes them from the rest. “If you love those who love you, what reward have you?” This means that it is too easy to love those who love us and in fact, even pagans can do that. On the contrary, it takes sacrifice and self-denial to love one’s enemy and this is exactly what it means to be Christian; a follower of Christ. Remember that the sacrifice of the cross is for the salvation of all peoples; good and bad alike. But what kind of love and enemy is Jesus talking about here? Love here is not erotic love or the mutual love of intimate friendship; it is a deep concern for the good of the other that reaches out even if there is no return. God, as good as He is, has many people who love Him but at the same time there are many who oppose Him, yet he treats all persons equally without discrimination; “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust.” We usually consider as our enemies, those who do harm to us or those we do not like. Wrongly understood, this invitation of Jesus to love our enemies, can sound quite unrealistic. To love our enemies does not mean keeping mere acquaintance with them or even casual friendship. Jesus is asking us to care for and to have genuine concern for our enemies and to pray for them, even when they hurt us, do not like us or even oppose us. What Jesus is asking us to do is humanly difficult but not impossible. It is the only thing that sets us apart as God’s children and will bring peace to us and hopefully, in time to the person who is hostile to us. We can literally disarm a hating person by acting towards them in a positive and loving way and refusing to be controlled by their negative attitudes. It is one of the ways to be perfect as our Father in heaven.


Let us pray


In your bounty, Lord, give us the Spirit who alone can teach us to think and do what is right, so that we, who without you cannot exist may live in loving obedience to your will. We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Amen


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