We have heard the Gospel admonition to love our enemies over and over again.
We have also heard Jesus tell us to be perfect more than once.
At the same time, we also know that we are not perfect, that it is almost impossible to love those who wish to harm us, and that these admonitions tend to wash over us like water off a duck’s back.
That is precisely why I think the most important word in the first reading is “today.” This reading comes from the Book of Deuteronomy which literally means the Second Book of the Law. There is nothing new in Deuteronomy. It was all said before in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus.
However, as we read from the Book of Deuteronomy, let us not lose sight of the setting of this book. Moses and the Israelites have reached the Jordan River. They are ready to cross over into the Promised Land. However, Moses will not be going with them. So he stops their progress and makes them pitch camp before crossing over the river. Once he has their attention, he repeats what he has told them so many times before, but he emphasizes his teaching by saying “This day,” and “Today.” In other words, even though you made a commitment to the Law some forty years ago, I am asking you to do it again today. Forget the past. Let it lie in the sands of the desert. Don’t worry about the future. No one can guarantee you tomorrow. All you have is today.
So let’s read the Gospel admonition to love our enemies and to be perfect in the present moment. For the present is all we have and all that matters. If tomorrow comes, then we have another opportunity to commit ourselves to being perfect. However, until tomorrow is today, let us concentrate on how we stand in the eyes of God right now.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator