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Reflections on the Daily Readings
from the Perspective of Creighton Students

February 23rd, 2014
by
Kevin Ryan
Bio| Email: KevinRyan@creighton.edu

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

It is quite beautiful the way the readings flow together today.  In the first reading, Moses is reminding his people not to hold grudges or harbor hatred, but to love their neighbors as themselves.  The Psalm expresses the merciful and forgiving love of Christ, love that we should emulate in our relationships with others.  The second reading, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, shows us who we are as temples of God, yet reminds us to have humility before God and others.  Finally, the gospel seems to come full circle when Jesus tells us to love not just our neighbors, but our enemies as well.

Today I want to look a bit closer at the notion of loving our enemies.  Too often in popular and social media I see people saying terrible things in regards to men and women they deem evil.  Occasionally Facebook is riddled with sayings like “he deserves to suffer and die,” in regards to people like Osama Bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Boston Bomber), and other people who have committed horrible atrocities.  While it would be un-Christian of me to claim that these people should not be punished in some way for their actions, these comments make me ask these questions:  “When did these people cease to be humans deserving of mercy?  If they don’t deserve mercy, how can I believe that I do?”

How do we decide what acts are too horrendous for mercy?  As Christians, we shouldn’t.  Too often we become victims of popular culture that wants revenge.  We want to claim that God’s mercy is limited and some sins are beyond forgiveness and must be punished to the extreme.  But we as Christians know better than that.  We know God’s mercy is limitless in our own lives as well as others.  The Psalm today reminds us of that when it says, “He pardons all your iniquities (all of them, not just some), heals all your ills.  He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.” 

In our own lives there may be people who have personally wronged us so atrociously that we simply cannot show mercy to them.  They have become our enemies in this life and are beyond our forgiveness.  But Moses says to us, “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart,” and Jesus says to us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  As Christians, this is arguably one of Christ’s most difficult teachings.

But we must remember that mercy does not come from us, but rather through us.  Some persecution is beyond our power to forgive, but not for Christ.  We are called today, by the words of Christ, to let his mercy flow through us.  Allow him to transform us from the inside out, so that we may be able to love our enemies and that we may be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect.

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