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Children of your heavenly Father


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Gospel • Mt 5:43-48

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.”

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The Gospel is a direct continuation from yesterday’s passage; Jesus again challenges us to go beyond the simple exterior following of the law. And, if we are honest, we will admit that often we are self-righteous and self-satisfied; we have a minimalist approach to our faith.

In Jesus’ time the Jews interpret the command to love one’s neighbor as an injunction to love one’s fellow-Jew. Jesus challenges that view; he asks us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Is that possible? No, not achievable by our human efforts alone. We can respond to that high calling only by cooperating with God’s grace. We seek to imitate the love of God who showers his blessings on the just and the unjust alike. So, we are to be “perfect” like our heavenly Father. We strive to imitate the Father, who is “rich in mercy” (dives in misericordia) [Eph 2:4]. Admittedly, that is a “tall order” to follow!

How can I, even in small ways, move beyond my often minimalist approach to living my Christian faith?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.