This week’s Lent theme is ‘Loving’, right at the heart of the Christian message, but possibly the hardest thing we find to do! God’s love is perfect, and we are to love as He loves: to extend our love beyond our families to those who may be unworthy in our eyes, to those who may actively hate us, to love without ceasing, regardless of the effort or cost involved!
Our reading today (Matt 5:43-48) leaves us, as Sally Welch puts it, quailing at the thought! We hear the words to ‘be perfect’ and give up at the thought of this, let alone at any attempt! But she goes on to offer the thought-provoking notion that Jesus is not so much commanding us to be perfect as promising us His perfection which opens the door to a new kind of living. This is not to pretend that loving others as Jesus wants us to is not difficult or costly. He wants much more than ‘fluffy, indiscriminate love.’ He wants incarnated love, love that can be seen and felt, love that is articulated. But knowing that we do not have to love in our own strength is a weight off our shoulders and helps us to realise that God’s love needs God in our lives if we are to see this manifested at all.