27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He walked out on her. After years of marriage, of trying to work it out, he just walked away, cleared out his stuff, did not explain, did not leave a note. Nothing! We later learned that there was another woman involved, an affair that had started at his office. Their only communication from this point on would be through attorneys. Their children were grown and could make their own decisions about whom they would visit and keep in touch with. There was just the stuff, the money, the house, the cars, and the boat, the material things, and of course a heart which had been shattered into what felt like a thousand pieces.
She got a good lawyer and together they pursued her full legal rights in the court proceedings. She had given up career and much to support him and raise their children. Without the protections afforded her by the legal system, she would have been in very difficult financial straits. As it was, she was able to get by. She at first felt that she should not pursue any of these legal avenues, that somehow this was not what a good Christian should do, but we urged her to let the law do its job. It was there to protect people in situations like hers.
But what of that broken heart? The law could not heal that. It could give her financial resources and it did, but it could not make her whole again. These words of Jesus became very important for her. Jesus had prayed for the men who crucified him. She remembered that and she remembered that once she had loved this man. Her love for him was not a bad or foolish thing. It was frustrated by his betrayal, but it was still a good thing. Eventually, she came to a day when she could honestly hope that he was OK, even happy. It did not happen quickly or in anything like a smooth progression, but she learned to love a man who had made himself her enemy, to pray for the one who had abused her and hurt her. For Christ had given her something of His love. Her ex-husband no longer owned her heart that day. His betrayal could no longer control her feelings and demand a response. Her journey is not a path all will walk, and I do not make light of how hard this was for her. Jesus does not expect all to be like her. But this woman continues to inspire me with the love of which Christ speaks of in this text. Give thanks to God for this love. It has come to you in baptism. Pray it finds free course in your life.