This is a challenging reading to listen to and to reflect on after what happened in Christchurch on Friday. At times it can be difficult to always get along with or show love to our friends, family and those close to us.
BUT today’s Gospel reading speaks of loving your enemy and to especially pray for those who persecute others. Jesus gave us this teaching because this is what we are called to do as Christians. We are all a beloved child of God, who are called to love and to show God’s unconditional love to others.
At these difficult times we can feel that our faith is being tested because we feel justified in hating those who perform such violent acts, after all it is our human nature,
BUT Jesus is asking us to put our faith in action, to be a disciple by following his example and propelling us forward to love.
The last line of the Gospel says to be perfect. Jesus is asking us to be perfect but not in a sense that we have no faults,
Nobody is perfect – we all have shortcomings and weaknesses.
Jesus is asking us to live with a perfection of purpose or goals. We must aim to be, through the grace of God, perfect in love. Jesus is calling us to a higher place, to reserve our judgement of others and to choose to love.
In an online article I read – Church leaders from across Christchurch released a statement saying they were absolutely devastated by the situation in Christchurch.
They expressed that no religious organization or group deserves to be the target of someone’s hate — regardless of beliefs. So, across the churches of Christchurch and Canterbury, they are praying for our Muslim brothers and sisters, for those injured and those who have lost loved ones, for the police, ambulance and other emergency services, and for all in the city of Christchurch who are feeling distress and fear.
The church leaders also extended their prayers to the gunman and their supporters, expressing that for any person to do this, they must have such hatred in their hearts, such misalignment of the value of human life, that they too, need our prayer.
Just as Jesus taught us in the Gospel reading, the Church leaders of Christchurch are putting their faith in action, being a disciple of Christ by offering up prayers and choosing to love. This is what we are all called to do.