As the 5th chapter of St. Matthew begins, Jesus calls his disciples up a mountain to teach them and speaks the blessed words we call beatitudes. He calls for living in ways beyond our usual ways, ways the “children of God” live, patterns of life that let us “see God.” But climbing a mountain is challenging, isn’t it?
In the gospel reading for saturday, the 1st week of lent–also from Matthew’s 5th chapter and part of his teaching from the mountain– Jesus tells us to love our enemies as God does. Can we come up to his command?
God the Creator, who provides sun and rain for the just and the unjust, is the One Jesus proposes we imitate in this gospel reading.
Later, he will be the example, as he renounces violence when his enemies come into the garden to seize him. “Put your sword back into its place,” he says to Peter who’s ready to strike out. Before his accusers who plot his death “Jesus was silent”. And when he rises from the dead, he embraces the disciples who betrayed him and tells them to go into the whole world, the world of the just and the unjust, and proclaim God’s loving call to be his friends.
We love those who love us; we love our families, we say. But we “really don’t know love at all.” Only when we love our enemies: those we ignore, those we exclude, those we condemn, those who have hurt us–do we love like God does. We have a mountain to climb.