Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Upon hearing this Gospel proclaimed, we should realize that Our Lord makes numerous demands of His servents and followers. Catholicism is not easy just as the road to Heaven is narrow and laden with rocks and thorns. It is hard, and consequently, we must constantly do Our Lord's will and fight against the ploys of Satan.
Yet, as my priest pointed out in his homily this morning, the hardest command of Jesus is not "love your enemies". Rather, the hardest command in today's reading is simply, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Notice the capitalized word of "Father". It is referring to Our Heavenly Father - God the Father. And this truly is the most difficult command by Jesus when He instructs us to be merciful just as the Father is merciful. How merciful is God the Father? His mercy is without end! Not only did He create us in His own image, but He sent His Son, truly God Himself, to earth to die on the Cross. And what does Jesus say on the Cross? As Jesus mounts the tree for our salvation, He says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Jesus not only dies for us, but He makes excuses for our sins, and how many times have we continued to sin against His Commandments!
We are to imitate that love and forgiveness displayed on the Cross.
My priest concluded with the story of St. Thomas More, a honorable man executed under the order of King Henry VIII because St. Thomas More refused to publically accept Henry VIII's divorce and creation of the Anglican (Church of England) Religion. For his refusal, he was imprisoned for 15 months, where he wrote and frequently prayed and performed penance. When he was sent to death, he gave to his executioner the last amount of money he had as a tip. And St. Thomas More, who was once the Chancellor of England, was executed. Before his execution, though, he spoke once more to the executioner and said to him along these words: "Do not hesistate to do your job. You send me to God."
That is an example of how to love your enemies.