Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 5,43-48

'You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jesus' speech on God's "justice" continues; it is very different from that of human beings. Jesus takes up the ancient law of the retribution that tried to regulate vengeance so that it would not be unlimited. And, in effect, this Mosaic arrangement played a balancing function within society. Thus any arbitrary exaggeration was avoided. One could go so far as to kill for any reason. Aware of the reasonableness of the law of retribution, Jesus overturns everything. He affirms that not only should vengeance, even if regulated, be banished, but love should be proposed as the supreme law, to the point of loving one's enemies and praying for them. These words of Jesus appear completely alien to the common feeling of our society where it is difficult even to love others, neighbours, those we meet in the streets and in the squares. But this is the perspective that Jesus outlines for the disciples. Christians will be recognized not only by how they love each other - and therefore certainly not by a selfish life aimed at defending themselves, often without others or against others - but also by how they love their enemies. Unfortunately, it is easy to detect in Christians a behaviour like that of those who do not follow the Gospel: we love those from whom we are reciprocated, we greet those who greet us, we worry only about those who reciprocate favours. But in this way Christian life is as if thwarted. And we stop being salt of the earth and light of the world. Jesus' command is totally opposed to the life we habitually lead. It is in fact introduced by "But I tell you". Jesus asks us to turn life upside down. And the reason lies in the fact that God himself is turned upside down with respect to the world.