Dear Parishioners and Visitors,
For many people, even those who identify themselves as Christians, this may be one of the most difficult passages in the Gospel. We live today in a world of great violence, of terrorism, of increasing litigation - suing and counter-suing, violence and murder, of vicious vendettas often stirred up in the tabloid press. Even in our country, we have become a divided nation and so intolerant of each other. We have a hate problem that we cannot deny nor ignore. Every day we witness the horror of political attacks on immigrants, hateful and demeaning rhetoric from white-nationalist militias against Blacks, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and the LGBTQ communities, and the slaughtering of the unborn.
As Christians it is easy to get discouraged and even fearful as we consider circumstances in our nation and world. But God is up to something - God is up to love. And He is still calling His [you] people into that great plan. Jesus invites us today to respond to the world as he did - loving, blessing, praying and offering. We are called to do this not only where there is something of which we approve, but in all circumstances. The love of which Jesus speak of is not just emotion: it is a commitment of the will. It is extravagant and limitless, and it includes us all, good and bad alike. This is the true love that frees up our country's gridlock of hatred. As St. Francis de Sales said, "In mensura sine mensura est amor, ut amor" - 'The measure of love is to love without measure.' It is an active loving based on going the extra mile.
God is very serious about His love for the world. His greatest commandment is love. This is the core of Jesus' teaching, which he himself practiced. The Golden Rule which is often expressed as "Do not do to others what you would not want done to you" is expressed here in positive terms. Now it's time for the Church to be His vessel of love to the least, the last, the lost! Lord, I am the focus of your indiscriminate love. Grant me a profound appreciation of this limitless gift. Transformed by this love, may I in turn show unrestricted loving to others-specially to my enemies!
Forgiveness is never easy. Loving our enemies and those who hurt us is never easy. But Jesus usually does not ask us to do the easy thing; he asks us to do whatever brings about the most love. Crossing racial, cultural, socio-economic, or even emotional barriers to share God's love can seem scary. As John writes "there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18). But instead of fear, let God's love penetrate your heart with compassion. Jesus calls us to follow the model of God himself: "Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate." As followers of Christ, we see things in a completely different way and we want to behave differently. Pray then, that He may help you to focus on His indiscriminate love. And grant you a profound appreciation of this limitless gift. Transformed by this love, may I in tum show unrestricted love to others.
Perhaps words of the late Mother Teresa are appropriate here: "Love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me."
Now, let us to respond to the world as Jesus did - loving, blessing, praying and offering. Amen.
-fr. Peter Damian, O.P.