No, it doesn’t mean be weird. Rather what is often customary or typical or predictable human behavior might not necessarily be consistent with the Gospel. Tax collectors and pagans (his words) behave in customary, typical, and predictable ways toward friend or foe. What’s so unusual about that? So I guess when it comes to loving other people, the unusual thing is to love those who are not inclined to love us back. And this behavior is exactly what would be different or unusual about us who claim a connection with Jesus.
“Love your enemies,” he tells us. But he also said “Love one another.” So it seems no one would be outside either groups now. And just because we claim to be Jesus’ disciples does not mean it would be so much easier for us. Rather, it is particularly challenging because we can no longer make any excuses that others would consider reasonable and therefore excusable. “An eye for an eye” is no longer applicable. Neither is “Love those who love you, and hate those who hate you.” They were reasonable. But Jesus challenges us to embrace perfection. And not what we imagine perfection to be: not perfection like Mr. Rogers or Mary Poppins or Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. Not perfection like Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela or Dorothy Day or Francis of Assisi. We all know none of them were perfect although there are things about them we could imitate that would make the world a much better place. But Jesus calls us to perfection as his Father is perfect, something definitely out of our range.
But we have to keep working at it anyway. God sees our efforts, our struggles, and our imperfections. God is mindful of our desire to live up to God’s standards, despite our obvious inadequacies. And loving those who don’t love us back is a start. Not that we would feel all warm and fuzzy toward them, but that we would desire good for them, God’s good and not ours. We can’t just be predictable or typical or like everyone else. We are called to a much higher standard, the unusual, which by his implication is God’s standard of perfection.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Ken Kramer.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020