14 June 2016
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” The problem is: When was that ever said? There is no commandment in the Law of Moses demanding that one should have hatred for an enemy. In the Old Testament, sinners and enemies were to be looked down on, and admonished and corrected, yes. But, hated? No. There never was such a commandment; at least, from God there wasn’t.
Maybe Jesus is referring to one of the many laws that mankind had “tacked onto” the Law of God. God doesn’t ask us to hate our enemies; but the sinful heart of humanity does. That’s where that so-called “commandment” came from: it came from the heart of man—an otherwise good heart, but still affected by sin."
And this should make us wonder: What other “commandments” and “expectations” are there in our hearts which are not from God? Jesus says: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But, you know, there’s another “commandment” in people’s hearts which sounds very similar: “Be perfect, just as those stars on television are perfect.” Or worse yet: “Be perfect, just as other people expect you to be."
Or what about the pressure we might feel to be like our favorite saints? Do you look at an image of Saint Francis, or Saint Bernadette, or saint whomever and say: “If only I could be holy like they are . . . Why can’t I just be good like them?” Of course, Jesus doesn’t say: “Be like Saint Francis.” He doesn’t say: “Be like Saint Bernadette.” Jesus says: “Follow me. Learn from me. I made you."
What God asks of us is pretty simple. But that gets all clogged up when we have those false “commandments” in our hearts. And when that happens, Jesus breaks in to clear it up, and he says: “’You have heard from others that it was said . . . , but I say to you, ‘Love one another—your friends, your enemies, and yourselves—as I love you. Follow me. Learn from me. My voice is true.”