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Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 5:43-48.

The Sermon On The Mount by Harold Copping

Love of Enemies – Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard that it was said,

‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

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.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?

Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (Matthew 5:43)

The first clause ‘You shall love your neighbor’ has always been understood as a reference to a verse in Leviticus,

  • “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

where neighbour refers to ones “fellow countryman,” i.e. a fellow Jew.

But there is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy. Many have looked in vain in the Old Testament and in many other pre-Christian Jewish literature for “hate your enemy.”

However, such a parallel to Jesus’ words may occur in the purpose of the community stand in Qumran texts,

  • “to love all the sons of light, each according to his lot in the council of God, and to hate all the sons of darkness according to his guilt in the vengeance of God.” (1QS 1:9-10)

And in the Old Testament (Psalms 139:19–22), wherein hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right.

When you would destroy the wicked, O God,
the bloodthirsty depart from me!h

Your foes who conspire a plot against you
are exalted in vain.

Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?i

With fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.

Again, there are norms of conduct for the Instructor in those times, about what he must love and what he must hate: “everlasting hatred for all the men of perdition …” (1QS 9:21-22)

Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy and the persecutor. His disciples, as children of God, must imitate the example of their Father, who grants his gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad.

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