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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).
When I was ordained a priest two years ago, many people mentioned that they were deeply moved by the laying on of hands. After the bishop imposes hands, all of the priests present line up to approach the ordinand and lay their own hands upon the man to be ordained. My province invites the Jesuits in the infirmary to take part in the ceremony. Leading the procession are elderly Jesuits pushed in their wheelchairs by novices. The first man to approach me leaned over and placed his weak hands upon my head.
Then he leaned out even further and kissed me upon the forehead. From that moment on there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – including my own. Speaking about the elderly Jesuit’s gesture after the Mass, my family said that he had a look on his face that could only be compared to a mother holding her newborn child – a look of joyful and tender love.
We can immediately identify the mother’s loving gaze and how we have experienced that in our own lives. We can identify both the people who look upon us with love and the people whom we in turn look upon with love. Given our Gospel reading in which Jesus commands up to pursue perfection by loving those around us, even our enemies, I propose the following question: shouldn’t our list of people we look upon with love be a little longer?
—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.
Lord, we understand that forgiveness is a process. If we find ourselves stuck in bitterness and holding on to feelings that turn our guts and bring our spirits down, lead us to people and happenings that move us toward personal freedom. Give us wisdom to avoid other’s duplicity, the courage to walk away if the environment is toxic, and patience to know the next path.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team