“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.
When I was little, Jesus’ words seemed simple: Be kind to the people you don’t like, even if they’re not kind to you. I’m not saying I was good at this, but it seemed like I could achieve it over time, like the grown-ups who were teaching me Jesus’ words.
But now, as a grown-up, I wonder: Does anyone actually love their enemies? Indeed, none of us is perfect like our Heavenly Father. And that’s okay. In the original Greek, “perfect” connotes the completion of a process or the fulfillment of a purpose. Each of us is in process, and we will not be “complete” until we are with our Father in heaven. But Jesus asks us to start that process now. So whoever your “enemies” might be–Trump, Clinton, ISIS, your little brother, whoever— say a prayer for them today. You’ll be taking one small step toward perfection.
Father in heaven, deepen the life of Jesus within my heart. Send me as a witness of gospel hope into a world of fragile peace and broken promises. Touch my heart with your love so I in turn may love all those I meet this week. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team