Gospel Reflection – Saturday, February 24, 2024 – Matthew 5,43-48 – Catholic Bible

First Reading (Dt 26:16-19)

Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Moses addressed the people of Israel, saying: “Today the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and ordinances; so observe them diligently with all your heart and with all your soul.

Today you have obtained the Lord’s agreement: to be your God; and for you to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments, and his ordinances, and to obey him. Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments; for him to set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor; and for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”

– The word of the Lord.

– Thanks be to God.

Gospel (Mt 5:43-48)

— PROCLAMATION of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew.

— Glory to you, O Lord.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: “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.”

— The Gospel of the Lord.

— Glory to you, O Lord.

Reflecting the Word of God

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the peace of the Lord be with you all. Today, I would like to begin our reflection with a question: who here has ever felt challenged by the circumstances of life? Who has found themselves in difficult situations, where patience is tested, emotions are shaken, and love for others seems almost impossible? I’m sure all of us have experienced moments like these. And it is precisely in these daily experiences that we find a powerful message in the biblical passages presented to us today.

In the first reading, from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are reminded of a fundamental truth: God has chosen us to be His people, and He desires for us to walk in His ways and observe His commandments. This is a responsibility we carry in our hearts, and it is a blessing we must cherish. But how can we do this in a world filled with challenges and adversities?

It is precisely at this point that the Gospel of Matthew brings us a transformative message. Jesus tells us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). These words may seem difficult to follow, but they contain a profound invitation to inner transformation and true love, a love that goes beyond human limits. Jesus calls us to love not only those who love us, but also those who harm us, treat us with contempt, or cause us harm in any way.

To fully understand this message, let’s imagine a story. Imagine a community where there were two families who lived in constant conflict. Their differences were evident, and the animosity between them was palpable. But one day, something unexpected happened. A devastating fire struck the community, destroying homes, crops, and leaving many people in despair. And in this moment of crisis, these two families, who were once enemies, came together to help the needy, sharing resources, offering shelter, and comforting each other.

This story illustrates Jesus’ call to love our enemies. For it is precisely when we are challenged by circumstances that we have the opportunity to demonstrate true Christian love. It is not a love based on superficial feelings, but a love that transcends differences and overcomes obstacles. It is a love that makes us recognize the dignity of every person, even those who hurt us.

However, loving our enemies does not mean agreeing with their actions or remaining in abusive situations. It means treating each person with respect, compassion, and mercy, recognizing that we are all children of the same God, regardless of our flaws and mistakes.

And how can we put this into practice in our daily lives? We can start with small acts of kindness. We can smile at those who mistreat us, offer words of encouragement to those who criticize us, and pray for those who persecute us. We can seek reconciliation, forgiving those who have offended us, and asking forgiveness for our own faults. We can bear witness to God’s love in our family, work, and community relationships.

But, brothers and sisters, loving our enemies is not an easy task. It is a continuous process that requires humility, patience, and perseverance. Therefore, it is important to remember the final words of today’s Gospel: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). This perfection does not refer to human perfection, but to the constant pursuit of holiness, of imitating Christ in our lives.

And it is in this pursuit that we find strength and hope. Because we know that we are not alone on this journey. God is by our side, guiding us and strengthening us every step of the way. He gives us the grace to love our enemies, to forgive, and to seek reconciliation.

So let us ask God for the grace to have a heart open to love, a heart capable of loving even those who cause us pain. May we be instruments of divine love in this world, spreading the light of Christ and transforming our relationships based on love and mercy.

And to help us on this journey, let us remember the words of the first reading: “Observe and follow all the commands I give you today” (Dt 26:17). The Word of God is our guide, the light that illuminates our path. Let us dedicate time to reading and meditating on the Scriptures, allowing them to transform our hearts and inspire us to live according to God’s will.

When we love our enemies, when we forgive and seek reconciliation, we are witnessing the transformative power of God’s love. We are building bridges instead of walls, promoting peace instead of conflict. And thus, we become true disciples of Christ, reflecting His image and likeness in this world.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this message resonate in our hearts and motivate us to act. May we always remember Jesus’ call to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to seek the perfection of divine love in our lives.

May the grace of God be with us, strengthening us and empowering us to live according to His will. And may, through our testimony of love, we may be instruments of transformation and hope in this much-needed world.

So be it. Amen.