20 June 2017: Pray for Those Who Persecute You

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Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: 2 Cor. 8: 1-9; Gospel: Mt. 5: 43-48

Often in movies I have seen the ‘satrusamharapooja,’ (the pooja to be offered for the destruction of the enemy). In it, some special sacrifices are offered in the temple and the person prays for the destruction of the enemy. The main psychology behind these kind of sacrifices is that human mind finds a hidden joy in the downfall of the enemies. In the psalms too we too such a trajectory: “May sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked exist no more.” (Ps 104:35), “May the desires of the wicked be frustrated,” (Psalm 112: 10) and many more. But Jesus gives a complete new picture of the whole value system. Yesterday we saw how Jesus asked us to repay good for evil and today Jesus asks us to go one step more. While repaying good for evil and forgiving them, pray for them too. Jesus is the perfect example for this. While lying on the cross, he prayed for his enemies, “Lord forgive them.” Jesus pleads for mercy on behalf of those who crucified him. Jesus was at the extreme of excruciating pain that he cried out: “My God why have you forgotten me?” But even at the moment of extreme pain and suffering he prayed for his enemies. It may be easy to forgive our enemies but to pray for their well-being is a greater task that Jesus asks of us today through the gospel passage. The translation “those who persecute you” may lead us to think that it refers to people who literally lead us to a great mental agony. But some of the translations put it as “pray for those who treat you badly.” Well! Many times a day we encounter people who treat us badly, who do not respect us, who spread ill about us, who do not help us in our need and so on. All these people are to come in our prayers to the lord. This is the perfection to which God calls us. “If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink.” (Romans 12: 20) and above all pray for their well-being and goodness.

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