Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 11
Saturday in First Week of Lent
“God gives God up for his enemies”
Jesus says some crazy things sometimes. Like today’s Matthew’s reading, “love your enemies!” (Mt 5:44) Whoever can do that? Moreover, why would anyone need to do that? I might not kill my enemies, but I can certainly dislike or ignore them. Yet, this isn’t what Jesus commands, is it? He says, “love” them. But notice that Jesus ties this command up with God’s character—“therefore, you must be perfect, as your Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) In other words, we should love our enemies because our Father loves his enemies. Even on the cross, Jesus prayed for his crucifiers, his enemies: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!” (Lk 23:34) But notice in Matthew, Jesus does not say “the Father” but “your Father.” What does that mean? When we say “my son” or “my daughter” it means our children belong to us. But it also means that we belong to our children. We would give up everything, even ourselves, for them. So, in today’s Deuteronomy reading, when God calls Israel his possession, he means they belong to him, and he belongs to them. He would do anything for his children. But yet we children can be rebellious, can’t we? We rebel so much that Paul describes us as God’s enemies (Rom 5:10). Yet, God so loved us, his enemies, that God gave God’s only Son, God himself, for us, so that we could belong to him, and he could belong to us. God gives God up for us, his enemies. Let that sink in. Nobody said loving enemies is easy. But the more we chew on how much God loves us, who once were his enemies, it transforms our hearts for our enemies. And maybe we too can pray like Jesus, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they do!”
O God, who by thy Word dost marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to thee with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.