Saturday of the First Week of Lent – Mt 5:43-48
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us some difficult instructions: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. . . . be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” There’s an insistence on our heavenly Father, who is perfect, but also on the need to be a child, that is, a true son or daughter of God through imitation.
There is a lot we could say, especially on Saturday, when we think of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In particular, though, we can recall that she is the model of being “a daughter of the Heavenly Father.” The document Lumen Gentium, at n. 53, remarks that Mary “is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
Commenting on this passage, Saint John Paul II says that as “Mother of the Son, Mary is the ‘beloved daughter of the Father’ in a unique way. She has been granted an utterly special likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood. . . . Mary also helps us discover, at the origin of the whole work of salvation, the sovereign action of the Father who calls men to become sons in the one Son.”
Indeed, we must remember, especially in a world that reduces our value to our looks, our talents, or anything that is really secondary and fleeting, we “are infinitely loved” by God the Father and Mary our Mother. We really are beloved sons and daughters; when Jesus asks us to be children of our Heavenly Father, He’s telling us to act like it. We all know families where the children resemble the parents; sometimes it’s for better, sometimes it’s for worse, but we also probably know children who act very differently than their parents. Sometimes the parents are quiet, and the children are loud and obnoxious. Sometimes the parents are out-going and talkative, and the children prefer peace and quiet. What Jesus is telling us to do is to show who our Father is by acting like it. We will always be beloved children of God the Father, but we need to resemble His love and charity in our own actions.
Today, let us pray for the grace to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us, that we may be children of our heavenly Father, not only because of His love for us, but also because of our resemblance to Him with our actions.