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enemiesloveThe gospel acclamation for this morning heralded the radical message about a new commandment that was about to be proclaimed. The verse from John that preceded the gospel says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (JN 13:34). That alone would be enough for more than a day’s reflection. But the message from Matthew (5:43-48) that winds up the Sermon on the Mount must have put a shocking conclusion on what was already foreign territory for the listeners of Jesus. It may cause us a bit of soul-searching too. Read it aloud if you will: You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is so unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?