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.

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