Loving those who love us and returning kindness to those who shower us with gifts and praise is pretty straightforward. Jesus continues in His sermon on the mount with the same idea as yesterday, this radical and profound love of God that doesn’t return an eye for an eye. He demands that we show love even to those we are certain will never return our affection, our smile, the thing they borrowed, or the favor we did for them. Jesus declares that real love, the kind of love God has for us, doesn’t have any self-interest. Jesus informs us that love isn’t about giving things or thoughts; it’s not just an offer of bread and “well wishes.” Love is giving ourselves, with no thought of return.
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of this while hanging on the cross. The people occupying His country stood around Him as He suffered and died. They were gambling for His clothing, taunting and jeering at Him. Publically shamed, naked, and exposed to the elements, our Lord looked on them with love. He forgave them. Without reproach, no snarky comments, no glaring and angry face. He who had all the power in the universe at His commands fought the war for our souls with love. Not just for those who returned that love, but even those who were killing Him.
Love does not expect interest or return. We don’t calculate the cost of our actions or guard our hearts. We love without measure, overflowing into the world from our hearts and our souls. That love pours out in even the most minor action, through our hands and mouths, as we lift those who are grieving, cook a meal for those who are hungry, and place a hand on the shoulder of the grieving. Saint Benedict the sixteenth once said: “Why does Jesus ask us to love precisely our enemies, that is, a love which exceeds human capacities? Because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love.”
A homily for Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Oridinary Time: June 14th, 2022
Jesus said to his disciples:
“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,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the 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.”