For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit?
If the answer is a proud ‘yes’, it is a pity! God is not. He is an anti-perfectionist! It is strange that when Jesus is telling us to be perfect like our heavenly Father, he is telling us precisely to be anti-perfectionists as the Father is!
Look at the preceding verses. God does not demand perfection from his children in order to love them or care for them. He causes his sun to shine on those who love him and those who hate him, and his rain to fall on the wicked and the good equally. Perfect love does not look for perfection in others in order to love them. To love a good fellow is no big achievement. That is normal. God’s perfection is precisely his ability to love those who are imperfect and sinful. This behaviour of God is disconcerting to the virtuous! The Scribes and the Pharisees would never accept this. But God is like that, and that is why he is God, according to Jesus. And it is that perfection, that tolerates imperfection, that his children are asked to imitate!
Who is persecuted most in the World? God, of course! There are many weaknesses in God, many things that we can do, but he cannot! Hating, punishing, destroying, etc. are impossible for perfect love, which God is. Hence, he has no alternative to allowing himself to be persecuted. When we truly understand this great mystery, we feel the awesome nature of God’s love, and we are interiorly liberated. In the face of hatred, we can remain free from hate. Then we become truly children of the Father, the great persecuted! It is only an Almighty Love that can afford to let himself be persecuted that way. Let us remember that Jesus, the Son of God, with all the Divine power that he had, did not do the least harm to those who persecuted him! He asked Pilate: “Do you think that if I asked my Father he would not send twelve legions of angels to defend me?” (Mt 26: 53)