Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48)
Often anthropologists will explain human behavior by speculating what life was like on the plain of east Africa where Homo sapiens supposedly emerged. They say things like the fight or flight reaction that humans feel today originated there perhaps a two hundred thousand years ago as ways of survival when confronting ferocious animals. Another such response Jesus proposes in today’s gospel.
Jesus is in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount. He is making one of six antitheses to show how God’s ways differ from human ways. He tells his disciples that humans love their neighbors and hate their enemies. Love for neighbors will assure them of allies when they face danger. Hatred of enemies will move them to not naively spare someone who would have you dead. The behavior makes sense in life on earth, but Jesus is introducing a new way of life – that of the Kingdom of God.
Enemy love stretches our limits. If we do not want to kill our enemies, we want to avoid them. Jesus is telling us to reconcile with them. We pray for them. We make an effort to speak with them. We reach out to them with kindness. As Jesus says, this is God’s way that we, His children, are to follow.