The teachings of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5 are certainly counter-cultural. They were counter-cultural then; they are counter-cultural now. That's because we have never really put his teachings into practice. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) has never been easy. It may even be the hardest.
In October 2006 a man killed a number of girls in an Amish school in Pennsylvania. Then he killed himself. Some of those families buried their daughter one day and attended the funeral of the killer the next. A year later they were still helping to support the man's widow and his three children. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
This radical forgiveness stopped the community from being torn apart. The Amish live a counter-cultural life and they chose to follow the counter-cultural command of Jesus. Like the Rwandan people we spoke of on Friday, they took the road less traveled. They chose love rather than hatred and forgiveness rather than revenge.
For reflection: "Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgiven them, for they do not know what they are doing'" (Luke 23:32-34).
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.