To err is human to forgive is divine” Alexander Pope

My sermon text this Sunday is Matthew 5:38-48 (the last two antithesis statements). Verse 44 says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” When I read this passage at the start of the week I felt comfortable with what it said. Forgiveness and loving ones enemies lie at the heart of the Christian message. However, as the week progressed I began to think pastorally about what Jesus was saying. Could he be serious about loving one’s enemies? It sounds like the right thing to do but in reality is it too much to ask? What about those amongst us who has suffered abuse or neglect? Furthermore, how do we reconcile this kind of passive approach to those who oppose us (for whatever reason) with our commonly held belief in boundaries and personal rites?

The problem with Pope’s quote is it removes any human obligation to forgive and places everything on God’s side of the ledger. As Jesus reminds us, forgiveness is in fact a human act as much as it is divine.

Forgiveness is at times easy, but for many, it is a hard and difficult road to travel. Emotions, memories, issues and history all need to be untangled as part of the ongoing process of forgiveness and healing. Although Jesus raises the bar and requires of his disciples that they love and pray for their enemies he does not seek immediate perfection. He simply asks that we begin the journey. A journey we know he takes with us…