SATURDAY, FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Dt 26: 16-19; Ps 119: 1-2, 4-5, 7-8; Mt 5: 43-48
FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF HUMAN PERFECTION
How are we to be perfect? “The Word of God… reveals that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love.” (Gaudium et Spes, 38). Thus, we are perfected by love and doing our best to love.
The teachings of the Lord always transcend typical human practice and call on his disciples to love without boundaries. The command to love your neighbour (cf. Lv 19:18) is found in the Jewish Law Book, the Torah, but nowhere in the Old Testament is there a command to hate your enemy. Regarding the fellow-Jew, the Torah explicitly says, “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart” (Lv 19:17). The Torah implies a man loves even a stranger: “You shall love him as yourself” (Lv 19:34). Instead of teaching people to hate their enemies, the Torah requires us to show kindness to enemies and assist them when they fall into difficulty (cf. Ex 23:5, Dt 23:7, Ex 20:16, Pro 24:17).
Jesus demonstrates that love concerns not just emotions but actions. Praying for our persecutors is a striking demonstration of love for them. Welcoming outsiders who are not part of our community is another way of putting the commandment of love into practice in a manner that transcends cultural norms. If we want to enter the kingdom, we must love our enemies, bless them instead of cursing them, and do good to them instead of evil. The motivation for all these loving actions is not just to receive reciprocal treatment, but rather to imitate God in the way he loves. Disciples are to model in their lives the universal benevolence of the Father. Thus, by seeking to fulfil the law, and practising the commands of the Torah in a way that expresses their fullest goal and God’s complete intention, we become ‘perfect’ as God is perfect. It is the love of God and the love of one’s neighbour which points out the true disciple of Christ.
Response: Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord!
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