“Love your enemies… and pray for those who mistreat you”. “It is not an optional extra, it is a command.” Those were the Pope’s words during his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square.
He was referring to Sunday’s Gospel from St Luke, in which Jesus calls to those who hear, to “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you”. Pope Francis said that Jesus knew very well that “loving our enemies goes beyond our possibilities, but for this reason he became man: not to leave us as we are, but to transform us into men and women capable of a greater love, that of his Father and ours.”
Let love triumph over hate
The Pope explained that, “Jesus wants God's love to triumph over hatred and resentment in every heart.” Posing the question, “how is it possible to overcome human instinct and the worldly law of retaliation?” Pope Francis responded by saying, “the answer is given by Jesus on the same Gospel page: ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful’. Whoever listens to Jesus, whoever strives to follow him even if it costs him, becomes a son of God and begins to truly resemble the Father who is in heaven.”
A revolution of Mercy
“There is nothing greater or more fruitful than love”, the Pope stressed, “it gives a person all his dignity, while hatred and revenge diminish it, disfiguring the beauty of the creature made in the image of God. This command, to respond to insults and injustice with love, has generated a new culture in the world: the "culture of mercy, which gives life to a true revolution", he said.
“Jesus assures us”, said Pope Francis, “that our behaviour, marked by love for those who harm us, will not be in vain.” “We must forgive”, he underlined, “because God has forgiven us and always forgives us.” If we do not forgive completely, we cannot expect to be forgiven. Instead, if our hearts are opened to mercy, if forgiveness is sealed with a fraternal embrace and the bonds of communion are tightened, we can proclaim before the world that it is possible to overcome evil with good.”