WORD of the DAY
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. (Matthew 5: 38/ 43-48)
This is one of the most difficult pages of the Gospel and also the most sublime. These words of Jesus, like those of the Sermon on the Mount, sound unreal and impossible to the mentality of people today, almost naive. How is it possible with these precepts to maintain a minimum of law and order in society? It was Hammurabi who promulgated the ‘Law of Retaliation’ as an antidote to the excesses of human revenge. But the whole of history has shown that this has met total failure.
Certainly, Jesus and His apostles are not here to manage politically correct order in human society but to bring light to the heart with a sign of what the Kingdom of God will be like when this ‘world passes away’. The Kingdom of God where God will be all in all and His Love will inundate the Universe. Merciful Love does not pay evil for evil but responds to evil with the good. It overcomes evil, cancels it by transforming the heart of the evil doer. Only the power of God can truly conquer evil. It is a power called Mercy that can often appear as subversive in the eyes of this world. However, it is the sun that lights the earth, this garden that makes us so ferocious (Paradise, XXII, 151) with a ray of celestial light, a reflection of the Father.
During Lent, I will try to generously banish from my heart every spirit of contrariness and intolerance so as to be merciful like the Father.
The voice the Pope Francis
We want to live in the light of the Lord’s Word: Be merciful like the Father. This is what Jesus tells us through Luke the Evangelist. It is a program of life that is very demanding but rich in joy and peace. (“Misericordiae vultus”, Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy)