Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48)
Biblical theologian John Meier finds Jesus’ command, “Love your enemy,” as unique. He examines all Jewish and pagan literature before and during Jesus’ lifetime without locating any equivalent saying. For Meier this indicates that the words come directly from Jesus. That is, he is convinced that the command could not have been borrowed from another source and attributed to Jesus as “the kind of thing he would say.” The phrase may be jarring to many who hear it for the first time but perhaps not as much so as the last command in today’s passage is to many contemporary Christians.
Jesus tells his disciples to “’be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” Now wise men have opined that perfection is the enemy of the good. And mothers warn their children that only God is perfect and that humans have to accept themselves as given to error. But Jesus remains unsparing in his command. His disciples are to become like God in their relations with others; that is they must be kind to everyone.
Before putting aside Jesus’ command as impossible, impractical, or self-detrimental, we need to consider what Jesus is offering with these dictates. He sends us the Holy Spirit which does not merely help us but transforms us. We are no longer crippled by sin but walk as God’s children capable of emulating His goodness much like Bach’s children wrote music approaching the glory of their father’s work.