• Naomi Mannino



A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 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 and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

REFLECTION: “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father,”....

There is nothing more hurtful than a trusted person saying something untrue about you. How can you continue to love your neighbor who is now seemingly your enemy? The last time this happened to me I not only felt my heart break, but the rest of me seemed to follow. There was nothing left of me that I considered whole. So, I went to the foot of the cross in prayer. There I discovered I wasn’t below the cross, but above the earth and on the cross with Jesus. As Jesus and I looked down from the cross we saw a lone person humbly kneeling in prayer at the foot of the cross. That person was the “enemy” who broke me. I knew Jesus looked down with love and a willingness to give her all that he had to give. I knew I had to do the same and love like Jesus, instead of continuing a resentment.

Jesus hung on the cross for all who loved Him and for those who hated Him. Jesus’ forgiveness and love for others is what is expected of us because we are the children of God. We should open our hearts to the healing power of forgiveness by contemplating how divine love mends all brokenness. Perfection comes from doing the will of the Father and accepting our cross with gratitude, for the Father thinks us worthy to become more like Him.

I can imagine the Father looking down on us from his heavenly throne and witnessing countless crosses being carried by those who love Him and want to be more perfect. I suppose God sees the blood of his Son, Jesus, covering his followers and he is pleased to see the self-sacrificing love for others. I am sure he sees all the times we drop our crosses, pick them up, or help others with their crosses in the midst of brokenness or exhaustion. So, let us strive to be perfect as Jesus was perfect by thanking God for our crosses and allowing others to help us carry them, because we love.

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