It's always a good idea to read the Gospel passage before listening to or reading the reflection.ย 

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CLICK HERE to listen to this reflection on the 5 Minute Gospel Podcast

ย ๐—œ๐—ป ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐Ÿฑ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—š๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—น ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜„, ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜. ๐—๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐—ฝ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—ด ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜‚๐˜€. ๐—ง๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜†, ๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ฒ:
โ€œYou must be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfectโ€.ย 

Jesus said to the disciples, and he says to us:

โ€˜You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy.โ€ย 

The he adds the hard part:ย 

โ€œBut I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.โ€ย 

We might find ourselves asking, โ€œCan Jesus really be serious about this?โ€ย 

Yes, he is.ย  Jesus is not speaking in catch phrases. His words a simple and precise: โ€œBut I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.โ€ย 

Why does Jesus ask this?ย 

The answer lies in the final words of our Gospel passage:ย 

โ€œYou must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.โ€ย 

Our heavenly Father loves everyone โ€“ even those who do not return that love. Jesus wants us to imitate Godโ€™s way of loving in our own lives. He tells us about our Father who:ย 

โ€œ โ€ฆ causes the sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and the rain to fall on honest and dishonest alike.โ€ย 

Jesus himself showed Godโ€™s unconditional love throughout his life and at his death. As he was crucified, Jesus did not condemn. He forgave those who killed him and prayed for them: โ€œFather, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.โ€ย 

Jesusโ€™ call to love and pray, even for our enemies, is a serious challenge to learn to love, be merciful and forgive as God does; to learn to โ€œbe perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfectโ€.ย 

This makes us different from โ€œthe crowdโ€; Jesus invites us to go against the current and not to be pushed along by the attitudes of others. We must love and pray for everyone, not just for those who love us, not just for family or friends, or our own people.ย 

Jesus came amongst us to show us Godโ€™s love which has no boundaries. No one is excluded from the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. And no one can be excluded from our love, our mercy and our forgiveness.ย 

We may never be perfect, but we can try to be better and let our love and forgiveness can grow.ย 

As we journey through Lent, Jesus invites us today to raise the bar again in our lives. He invites us to think again about the greatest commandment: our love for God and our love for others โ€“ yes, even our enemies. This is the beating heart of our faith.ย 

In speaking about this Gospel, Pope Francis once said:ย 

โ€œDo not worry about the malice of others - about those who think badly of you. Instead, begin to disarm your heart out of love for Jesus. For those who love God have no enemies in their hearts.โ€ (Homily, Bari, 23 February 2020)

ย Letโ€™s pray today:ย 

Lord Jesus, help me to disarm my heart out of love for you.
Help me to have no enemies in my heart.
Help me to strive to be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.
Lord Jesus, make me more like you.