love your enemies


What Is The Most Difficult Teaching Of Jesus?


7th Sunday Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: February 19, 2023

Which teaching of Jesus do you think is most ignored in our world today? Which teaching of Jesus do you think is the most difficult to obey?

We just heard in the Sermon on the Mount.  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  This teaching is quietly ignored by most people and by most us who call ourselves Christians.  I think that it is the most difficult teaching of Jesus to follow.

But, it is also perhaps the teaching that could make the most difference in our world.  The one teaching that could really change our world for the better.

This is the supreme challenge of Christian faith.  This radical embrace is the one thing that separates Christianity from all other religions.  All religions, in some form or another, have the commandment to love God and love your neighbour as yourself.  But, this new commandment to “love your enemy” goes radically deeper.

Jesus was not passive in the face of evil, but only offered non-violent resistance. For the reign of God will lead to the complete elimination of every form of violence between people and nations.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  means, do not be to others as they are to you.  Otherwise they control your behaviour.  This calls for a change of heart, where my heart only follows the heart of God.  Praying for those who persecute us is important because that prayer is able to form our hearts in a new way.  We are not formed by our enemies but formed by God.  It does not mean to be passive in the face of evil or injustice.  But, it is a non-violent resistance so that we do not become what we hate.

Martin Luther King once said, “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.  It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding.” This is the real test of authentic Christian faith.  Love of enemies.

The first step to living this love of enemies is recognizing our own dignity.  That you are loved by God and have an essential dignity.  If a wife is being physically abused by her husband, the first step is for that woman to recognize her own dignity, that she does not deserve to be treated in that way.  Then she can resist and remove herself from a situation in which her dignity is not respected.

Do we see the image of God in the outsiders, in the least of our brothers and sisters?  Do we see the image of God even in our enemies?  Either we see the image of God in all created things or we don’t see it at all.  If our love is limited, if our acceptance of others is limited, then we are not seeing with the eyes of God.

Jesus is pushing us deeper.  If we choose to hate or to reject certain people then we are not faithful to the vision of Jesus.  Do I exclude people of a different race, or people of a different religion, or sick people or gay people or people on welfare or homeless people or whomever we have decided to hate, then we are not seeing with the eyes of Jesus.

If some religious or political leader is teaching in a way that causes you to hate, if they are leading you to hate a certain group of people, then turn away from their teaching.  Any leader who encourages hatred of a group of people is not worth following.  That should be an automatic sign to us that it is someone we should not follow

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  This is perhaps the most difficult teaching of Jesus.  It is one which we often choose to ignore.  Hatred leads us to become like our enemy, to become what we hate.

Only love of enemies can form our heart into the heart of God.  Love of enemies is the ultimate test of true Christian faith, it is the one teaching that is most capable of changing our lives and our world for better.

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The Way To Peace & Harmony: Will You Follow It?


7th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: February 24, 2019

If someone offered you a way that could lead to peace and harmony in our world, in your family, in our lives, would you embrace it?  Imagine a way to peace in the world, in our families, in our lives.

Well, Jesus offered that to us in the gospel we just heard.  Following this way of Jesus would lead to such peace.  But, it is a way that turns upside down our way of thinking and acting, it is a way that our world simply thinks is silly.  If we lived by this gospel way of Jesus it would make the biggest impact of anything we could do to make our world and families better places.

This is the great test of our faith.   Not going to church on Sunday, but living this way of Jesus that we just heard in Luke’s Gospel.

There are many in our world today who claim to be protecting Christianity, while acting in a way that is directly opposite of the Gospel we just heard.  It is truly radical, yet the only way to true peace and harmony.  What is this way Jesus presents?  Let us listen carefully.

Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you?  Love your enemies.  give expecting nothing in return.  Do not judge.  Do not condemn.  Forgive.  Give.  Be Merciful.

Well, are you ready to follow this way?  If we are honest, when we look in our world, in our lives, we see that our nations prefer guns and weapons, we prefer vengeance and getting even with others, we are often upset because we feel we did not get what we deserve.  So, we continue to follow a path that is destructive, divisive.

Once upon a time there were two shopkeepers who were bitter rivals.  Their stores were across the street from each other, and they would spend each day sitting in the doorway, keeping an eye on each other’s business.  If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at this rival.

One night, an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “God has sent me to teach you a lesson.  He will give you anything you ask for, but I want you to know that, whatever you get, your competitor across the street will get twice as much.”

The angel said, “Would you like to be wealthy?  You can be very wealthy, but he will be twice as rich.  Do you want to lead a long and healthy life?  You can, but his life will be longer and healthier.  You can be famous, have children you will be proud of, whatever you desire.  But whatever is granted to you, he will be granted twice as much.”

The man frowned, thought for a moment, and said, “Alright, my request is this:  strike me blind in one eye.”

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  But, we say that is not possible, we prefer our vengeance, our getting even.  We do not want the non-violent way of Jesus.

God’s mercy revealed by Jesus is a scandal to our world.

God’s mercy is beyond our imagination.

But, it is the key to peace, and you and I living mercy in our lives is the key to the possibility of peace and harmony in our world, in our families, in our lives.

Jesus offers us a way to peace in today’s Gospel, will we embrace it?

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