"‘But I say to you, love your enemies….’ ”
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 easily argue that Jesus saved the hardest for last! How are we to love our enemies? The simple answer is: “Like Jesus on Calvary.”
We might begin by asking how our enemies got to be our enemies in the first place.
Sinners gain enemies because of their 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 too will win enemies. These enemies we must love unto the Cross.