First Saturday of Lent
Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorite passages, as it displays one of the great beauties of the Christian faith and reminds me of an area in which I always need to grow. Jesus tells us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I may read this Gospel passage and admire the great love that Christ exemplifies, but actually following through with the task of loving both our friends and our enemies is not always that glamorous. Maybe this is why He follows with the reminder that “he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust.” Making a greater effort to love others does not mean that everyone will start being nicer to us, that we will always feel secure, or that life will be easier and happier. However, that is what makes Christian love so particularly beautiful—that it is not dependent on how we feel, but on looking upon others as the Father does.
When we see the other as Jesus does, it can help us move past current annoyances or frustrations and acknowledge that person’s unique beauty and dignity. This allows us to go beyond a shallow niceness in trying to be kind, to truly loving the other. How many times have I been nice to someone in conversation and then turned around and criticized them to one of my friends? The first reading today talks about the Lord’s statutes. It says, “Be careful then, to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” We hear general rules of how to treat others that are important, but we must focus on following Christ with our whole hearts and souls. This means that we cannot be satisfied with actions that make us look nice while maintaining a bitter heart. Christ says, “Blessed are they who observe His decrees, who seek him with all their heart.” By striving after Christ’s heart, let us learn how to love others even when it is not easy, with the Cross as the ultimate example.