Hit list or Prayer list? Tuesday, 11th Week in ordinary time- Mt 5:43-48

Hit list or Prayer list? Tuesday, 11th Week in ordinary time- Mt 5:43-48

The last of the hyper theses really tests the endurance of a disciple, for the challenge it poses is felt in our everyday life. “Love your enemies” seems like a winning statement for the Nobel Peace prize and yet those who have advocated it have been assassinated and put to death; Christ, Martin Luther, Gandhi to name a few. It is interesting that world leaders winning the Nobel Peace prize call for peace never for love. Peace without love is a truce ready crumble.

Yet the message advocated by Jesus to Christians is not some hopeless idealism. Remember that the hyper theses taught by Jesus, were a way to challenge the disciple towards being more and giving more as well as a strategy for overcoming the persecutor.  Christ is not calling the disciple to “an introverted aggression but an aggression transmitted into a strategy for winning through the wisdom of love. (JBC)

In presenting the last of these six hyper theses, Jesus is also contesting the false and twisted teaching of the Pharisees and Scribes. It is for this reason that He begins by saying, “you have heard it was said.” It was the scribes and Pharisees who took the Divine law of ‘love your neighbour ‘(Lev 19:18), dropped the words ‘as yourself’ and added their own non biblical words, “and hate your enemy.” Clearly the blasphemers were the ‘teachers’ of the law themselves.

Jesus corrects this teaching when He asks us to ‘love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.’  In His teachings on love for enemies, scattered all over the Gospels, Jesus has been consistent on who the neighbour or enemy is. In quoting selectively only the love of neighbour and mandating the hatred for enemies, the Jewish authorities had given a carte blanche to the Jews to only care for a fellow Jew; hatred for the pagans and outsiders had a religious approval.

It is for this reason that when Jesus was asked by the young man, “who is my neighbour?” He launches into what was to become a parable told across faiths. The parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is more than a feel good story.  The Samaritan was viewed by the Jews as an outsider, an enemy. Strangely, it is he who proves to be a neighbour and friend to a Jew, who perhaps, with his sanctioned religious hate, may not have been as kind should the roles be reversed.

Jesus also realises the frailty of human nature when it comes to loving our enemy and that’s why his next words after forgive is, ‘pray.’  It is human folly, if not arrogance, to believe that we have the power to forgive if that grace does not come through prayer.

 It is prayer that warms the heart and cools the sting. No wonder then, that the prayer given to us by Our Lord Jesus, as a pattern for all prayer has in it the words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

These words spoken on the ‘Mount of Beatitudes’ are lived by Jesus on the ‘Mount of Calvary’, when nailed to a cross; Jesus utters the prayer, “Father forgive them”. Jesus is not merely offering forgiveness in words he is offering it in prayer to the Father.  Forgiveness must be accompanied by prayer, then progress is made, then ‘perfection is experienced’.

If you want to get someone off your hit list, then place them in your prayer list.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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3 thoughts on “Hit list or Prayer list? Tuesday, 11th Week in ordinary time- Mt 5:43-48”

  • Thank you Fr. Warner. The title should say Tuesday however 🙂

    I actually have a question about yesterday’s readings. I’m not sure if first reading for weekday mass is chosen sequentially or typologically but is there a connection between yesterday’s Gospel and first reading? The first reading talks about Ahab snatching Naboth’s property by killing him while Jesus talks about giving our cloaks if someone sues us for our tunic. Is Jesus pointing back to this story in any way?

    • Ashwith, On Sunday’s the first reading and the Gospel are chosen thematically. The second reading, somehow, has some element that can be woven into the homily. Yesterday’s Gospel could have been matched thematically though that would be by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The first readings and the Gospel on weekdays flow sequentially though often there are large jumps in the lectionary when it comes to the first reading. You could turn a page of the Bible and a hundred years have passed.

  • “If you want to get someone off your hit list, then place them in your prayer list.”

    Beautiful message Father.


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