Perhaps you remember me. For those who do not, my name is Zachariah, Zach for short. I've been following Jesus since his baptism and listening to him preach, talking about the coming Kingdom, and witnessing his miracles. Quite impressive!
I know he said our holiness must surpass that of the Pharisees and scribes-a pretty daunting task since they are very strict in their observance of the Law. He mentioned a few commandments, kicking their meaning up a notch. I could follow his train of thought in those situations.
But, now this! Are you kidding me?! Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? Yeah right! I am supposed to love the Samaritans and pray for the Romans. No way! Offer no resistance to one who is evil; turn the other cheek; give up my cloak rather than go to court; go beyond what is asked of me in being pressed into service by a Roman soldier; give my hard earned cash to anyone who asks. What am I, a wimp? A pushover?
I think that I like the old way better: love your countryman and hate your enemies. Much easier. And what about the person who is disagreeable to me, always pointing out my flaws, who is aggravating and just plain mean? Should I love and pray for that person, too?
Jesus says we must go beyond what pagans and tax collectors do (whom I hate as well!), being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
I'd like to see him do that.
And he did. For three years, ending by forgiving even those who crucified him. Maybe we do it imperfectly, but at least we have to try. His Spirit lives on in us, has been given to us. He has confidence in us. He encourages us. He showed us that it can be done.
-Fr Sas, February 23 Homily, 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A