Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Readings for Today
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:44–45
Today’s Gospel ends with Jesus saying, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a high calling! And it is clear that part of the perfection to which you are called requires a generous and total love even for those you may consider your “enemies” and those who “persecute” you.
When faced with this high calling, one immediate reaction could be that of discouragement. When faced with such a challenging command, it is understandable that you may feel incapable of such a love, especially when the hurt caused by another is ongoing. But there is another reaction that is entirely possible and one for which we should aim. And that reaction is deep gratitude.
The gratitude we should allow ourselves to experience is on account of the fact that our Lord wants us to share in His life of perfection. And the fact that He commands us to live this life also tells us that it is entirely possible. What a gift! What an honor it is to be invited by our Lord to love with His very heart and to love to the extent that He loves all people. The fact that we are all called to this level of love should result in our hearts giving deep thanks to our Lord.
If discouragement, however, is your immediate reaction to this calling from Jesus, try to look at others from a new perspective. Try to suspend judgment toward them, especially against those who have and continue to hurt you the most. It’s not your place to judge; it’s your place only to love and to see others as the children of God who they are. If you dwell upon another’s hurtful actions, angry feelings will inevitably arise. But if you strive only to see them as children of God whom you are called to love without reserve, then even feelings of love will more easily arise within you, helping you to fulfill this glorious command.
Reflect, today, upon this high calling of love and work to foster gratitude within your heart. The Lord wants to give you an incredible gift by loving all people with His heart, including those who tempt you to anger. Love them, see them as God’s children and allow God to draw you into the heights of perfection to which you are called.
My most perfect Lord, I thank You for loving me despite my many sins. I thank You for also calling me to share in the depths of Your love for others. Give me the eyes to see all people as You see them and to love them as You love them. I do love You, Lord. Help me to love You and others more. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Gregory of Narek, Abbot and Doctor of the Church