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“Love Your Enemies?!” by Leo Aliaga, Fiat Ventures

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Flickr User Myranda Kali

Yikes! Jesus lays it down in his message for Sunday. Jesus provides the answer on how to love. It is not an easy thing to do but there are few reasons why Jesus does this.

Jesus invites us to love our enemies.  Now you may have heard this over a thousand times but that is because we need a reminder. No one is perfect and we are always going to need to grow in love. When we are asked to love those who hurt us, it involves making a decision.  Your feelings many times will tell you otherwise. This is why it is important to remember that love is a decision. Whether it is someone in your family or a bully at school, Jesus is inviting you to love them. Love does not dismiss justice but it calls for mercy as well. This is why love is not just a feeling but ultimately a decision.

This past January at World Youth Day in Panama, Pope Francis mentioned a few things about gossiping. He has talked about this topic before but repeated, “Gossiping is a form of terrorism.”  That might sound dramatic, but he was trying to make a strong point.  It is sometimes the first way we offend others. Sometimes we think that if someone is not present, then we can talk badly about them. There is a difference between venting and defaming someone. Remember if sin was not attractive then no one would do it. How many times have we gotten to the lunch table and we are sitting with friends or family and the topic of conversation is the latest gossip? Sometimes we do not realize that when we gossip, we are judging and condemning others. That is what Jesus is referring to when he says this. It does not take an expert or someone with a PhD to see the defects of someone. We all have defects and therefore who are we to judge? Would we want people to gossip and judges us for our mistake? Would you want to be the latest news of gossip at the table? This is why it is important to forgive.

If love is a decision, that means forgiveness is also a decision. When someone hurts you, you have a choice to make. Either hurt them back (words or actions) or forgive them on the spot. Easier said than done right? That is why forgiveness is a special grace from God. Now you must be wondering when how do I receive this grace and how can I forgive. One of the greatest ways to do this is my meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ. We are a few weeks away from Lent. What a better opportunity to try to discover what his sacrifice on the Cross means to us. Think about it this way. After being arrested, scourged, tortured and hung on the Cross, Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they do not do what they do.” That is intense and extremely difficult to do. Now we could say that well Jesus is God so he can do everything. Do not forget that everything that Jesus did was to leave a model behind of what we should do. He tells us, “You will do greater things than me.” How is that possible? We are called to be saints and through God’s grace and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we can do the impossible.

We have all been in hurt in our lives. This Lent can be an opportunity to forgive and let go of any resentment and grudges we have. If you look at all the hatred in the world, with war, crime and even politics, you see the need for love and forgiveness. Do not forget that Jesus is always with you and guiding you in doing this. Ask Jesus and Mary to help you really mean those words in the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

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