by Fr Christopher Maseko
By nature we have the quest to love and to be loved. We feel somehow fulfilled when we are appreciated, admired, respected and held in high esteem by others. In that way we feel important. On the other hand, we feel bad when others speak ill of us, mistreat, when reviled, opposed and criticized. Some have adopted the tendency of a one traffic rule and do not reciprocate the love as Jesus encourages us to treat others the same way we would love to be treated.
It is easy to mingle with friends especially if we have one thing in common. It is not easy, however, to meet people whom we dislike. The biggest challenge is to meet those who consider us as enemy. But Jesus even goes further when He says we should not only meet them, but that we should love them. ‘Love your enemy’ is the message to us. There are times when we keep grudges in our hearts against others, times when we allow thoughts of revenge to grow in us, and times when we should have loved our enemies, but we failed to do so.
In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to do justice and show mercy to our neighbours. What we wish our neighbours to do to us, we must do that to them for this is the meaning of loving our enemies as ourselves. The commandments of Jesus, especially the commandment to love our enemies, are opposed to the corrupt and fallen human nature. Jesus came to renew and regenerate the corrupt and fallen human nature.
As disciples of Jesus, we have to show mercy and compassion to our enemies. We, who are born anew in Christ Jesus, should reflect His nature of mercy and compassion in our lives. God is merciful, and so we who are His children, should show mercy to others. We are to do good to them who hate us. This kind of a behavior is possible only if we are Christlike which happens by dwelling much with Him. The world’s hatred, curses and mischief must be met with Christian benevolence, blessings and prayers.
As followers of Christ we must be moderate and merciful in judging others. We ourselves are bad coins when we stand before Christ. Only a merciful God can forgive and accept us. If we judge harshly those minute faults of others, then the Lord will judge severely our manifold faults. We are to exercise that kind of love which will be merciful in judging and condemning others, and which will be generous in giving others. These earthly mercies will be repaid with heavenly reward. God recompenses are always abundant recompenses.
Our charity should help our neighbor to seek God’s forgiveness. That he should seek ours is of minor importance in comparison with that. You would like your neighbor to help you reach heaven. “You go and do likewise” to your neighbour, and you will both get there.
Jesus, your witness of unconditional love and forgiveness is really difficult to follow. Help us as we struggle. Do not let us become discouraged. Help us to get back up each time we fail and to resolve more firmly to be merciful and forgiving as you were. Amen