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June 19: Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Reading I Kings 21:17-29
Gospel Matthew 5:43-48

“...pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father....”

Today’s Gospel passage is from the first third of the “Sermon on the Mount”. This “inaugural address” is recorded in full only in Matthew, in Chapters 5-7. Today’s Gospel passage forms part of a series in Chapter 5 of five contrasts between the commands of the Law and Jesus’ commands to love. Each contrast uses a variation of the form, “You have heard it said… but I say to you.”

The contrast presented in today’s Gospel passage is the last of these five contrasts. You could argue that Jesus saved the hardest for last! How are we to love our enemies? The simple answer is: “As Jesus did on Calvary.”

We might begin by asking how our enemies got to be our enemies in the first place. We ought to be mindful that we sinners gain enemies because of our sins. So one way to shorten the list of our enemies is to sin less.

Jesus, of course, was sinless, but still had plenty of enemies. In fact, Jesus had enemies for just the opposite reason that sinners do: because of His unwillingness to compromise with evil. To whatever extent we may, through God’s grace, bear holiness in our own lives, we will win enemies for this reason also. Yet we must love all of our enemies unto the Cross.