Dear Friend of Carmel Mission,
As we approach the Lenten season, Jesus has some difficult commands for us in today’s Gospel. We are to love our enemies, offer no retaliation for mistreatment, give freely to those who may not deserve or reciprocate our generosity, all in imitation of the perfection of God’s love. It is daunting to attempt to be “perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
When Jesus issues what seems like an unattainable, even unreasonable, commandment, it can be helpful to view it as an invitation. Knowing that God only wants what is best for His sons and daughters, His commands can only be meant to lead us to greater wholeness, maturity, and ultimately happiness. We live in a world where retaliation seems almost an automatic response – from the playground to the halls of government. What can we gain when we leave this mentality behind? Can we become freer, more complete, more receptive to joy and peace?
Jesus’s invitation to radical love in the Gospel is not the first time God has encouraged God’s people to love profoundly. We hear in the reading from the Book of Leviticus that God said much the same to Moses, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev.19:18) This command has two challenging aspects.
In both cases, we need to ask God to reveal to us how we appear in God’s eyes. Once we see ourselves, our neighbors, and our enemies as precious, beloved children, it is more difficult to treat anyone, including ourselves ,with anything less than the utmost respect and compassion that our inherent human dignity demands.
We are made in the image of, and loved unreservedly by, our loving and merciful God. In our lifelong journey towards perfection, completeness and wholeness in God, we are certain to have moments where we stumble and fall short. This week I invite you to join me in not allowing these moments to stop us from returning always to the path of radical love and generosity that imitates the love of God.
I wish you and your loved ones blessings of good health and great hope. Please continue to pray for peace in our world,