In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues His sermon on the Mount found in Matthew. In the past three weeks, we have heard the Beatitudes (the disposition of the followers of Christ), Salt and Light of the Earth metaphors (characteristic of the followers of Christ), and the fulfillment of the Law through change of heart and not just actions (an examination of conscience for the followers of Christ). All of these (including today’s gospel) are preparing us for the season of Lent, where we enter the desert to refocus on what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

Today, Jesus gives many real life examples to show one truth: If you would like to show true love to another person, you must do so without taking into account how you are treated by them or the personal cost. This can be a very challenging gospel. As Jesus mentions, ‘an eye for an eye…” as the old law, this new way of life defies human wisdom. We are a people of self-preservation. We are a people of comfort. We are a people of leisure. And we seek these things because we were created as such. But who do we rely on to supply these things for us?

When God created the human race, He created for us in abundance, and it was good. We were kept safe, comfortable, and in a state of rest with God. However, in a fallen world, our instincts are not to trust in God, but rather ourselves for these goods. Consequently, we all chase after these things at the expense of others. We place our personal wants and needs above all else. We become the Gods of our life, rather than depending on God, who constantly desires to provide for us. 

If we withhold money, aid, or goods from someone who asks for it, do we really trust that God is providing for us? A person who trusts God knows that He will see the act of charity and provide for His son or daughter who chose to show love. Withholding is often rooted in trusting in self. 

If we love only the people who love us, how different are we from a ‘sinner’ who also loves those who treat them well? (Trick question: we are all sinners). But Jesus uses the example of the public perceived ‘worst’ sinners to make a point. To truly love, it must be in a manner that is greater than any human love.

As a solution, Jesus cites the Father who loved us while we were still sinners. Who regardless of how we act, provides the world and its goodness for us. He holds all things in existence for us. If God were to stop loving us even for a moment, we would cease to exist. He is our perfect example, and we are called to love as He does. 

But He knows we are incapable of doing this alone, thus He communicates his Word (Jesus) to us to show us how to truly love. Jesus comes to the earth not only to condemn human wisdom with His words, but in His actions of His healing mission and passion on the cross. He allows for us to enter His Body (the Eucharist and the Church) so that we can participate in His perfect example of love. 

Without Jesus, we are doomed to a life that makes us the god of our lives. And if the current society of increasing depression and violence is an example of this, we know that this ultimately will turn into Hell on Earth. So we need to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, and we can only do this through following Jesus’ example: submitting to the Father’s will, dying to ourselves, and depending on Him. When we do this, we will be able to love others, regardless of the cost, because that’s what God does.