38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This is God’s radical love—not to love what deserves it, but to love what doesn’t. Can love, real love (and not a hackneyed “true love”) be anything else? If we always expect something in return, does it count as love? Maybe it’s a question with out an answer. But what’s the harm in trying? In loving beyond deserving, maybe we confer on those unlovely things, those unlovely people, that they are beloved, and so worthy of love. At least, that seems to be Jesus’ perspective. That should be good enough for us.
Our prayer is a verse from the Lenten hymn, “My Song is Love Unknown.”
My song is love unknown,
my Savior’s love to me,
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
Art: Bruegel, Jan, 1568-1625. Sermon on the Mount, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55346 [retrieved May 4, 2020]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sermon_on_the_Mount_by_Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder,_Getty_Center.jpg.