“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”
On the surface, this doesn’t seem to apply to family at all. Unless you’re from a very dysfunctional family, hopefully you wouldn’t include many relatives’ names in a list of your enemies.
That said…all of us can think of family members who we deeply disagree with or who frustrate us, often in the same way over and over again. Even in our immediate families, there can be those who just seem to know how to irritate us, whether intentionally or accidentally. And, of course, there are the family members we consider friends, the ones we get along with and understand. But here, Jesus says that if we only love those who love us…we’re not doing it right.
This isn’t talking about cases where there’s a need to set boundaries or cut off abusive relationships, but it should remind us that it’s not enough to just tolerate our difficult family members. We’re called to forgive and seek out and love them, even—maybe especially—when that’s hard.
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