Peace be with you!
We continue to listen to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Mathew’s Gospel. From Mathew, Jesus’ teaching is described as a higher form of righteousness: a more demanding version of the law. At first glance this may make us feel more distant from God because it is harder to live that way. On the other hand, we know that Jesus came to assure us that God intensely loves and cares for us. We also know that Jesus came to bless and to heal our brokenness. Having these two important keys for understanding, we can understand Jesus’ teaching as deeper rather than higher. Jesus goes to the roots of the law, the depths of the heart and leads us to a deeper relationship with God. When we grow in depth and spirituality, we encounter the darkness affecting the human spirit and the deep flaw of human nature. As we near God in his marvelous light, more of our own imperfections show up. But Jesus is the Divine Physician who exposes our wounds and leads us more deeply into the way of prayer and healing!
We experience inner conflict when we are confronted with the reality that our own thoughts and behaviors do not always conform to the way of life that Jesus calls us to. This weekend our attention is directed toward God’s law that we must love our neighbor as ourselves.
We know that everything flows from the love of God. This is the first and most important Commandment. Loving your neighbor as you love yourself—well, what if we don’t love ourselves or we don’t understand how to love ourselves properly? Then we are not going to be able to love anyone else–properly. There is a balance here. It falls in between putting ourselves down and being selfish, arrogant and egotistical.
Jesus invites us to ask him to show us how to love ourselves so that we may love our neighbor correctly. If we ask, he will show us how beautiful God’s love is, first for ourselves, then for everyone else. When we experience and understand that God love us unconditionally, even with our sins and faults, we change. We begin to love ourselves humbly, that is in truth. Then we begin to love others with God. When our love is perfected, our love will entirely reflect God’s own love—even for those who make themselves enemies.
God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter