Read: Luke 6:27-36
“Put a little love in your heart,” says the 1969 hit song by Jackie DeShannon. More love in our hearts would be a great practice to add to our lives for Lent. We could all do a better job of loving our friends, our family members, our co-workers, and our neighbors. Yet Jesus has this pesky habit of turning what we think we know about something completely upside-down.
In Matthew’s version of today’s passage, Jesus states, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 6:43-44, NRSV). Adding love to our lives may not be so easy after all!
“You have heard it said…but I say to you…” Jesus repeats this refrain several times throughout the Sermon on the Mount. It is His way of saying that He has not come to abolish the Jewish laws, but to build on them and add to them, and ultimately fulfill their true meaning. But through this act of addition, Jesus has actually made this particular law more simple: we don’t get to pick and choose who we love. We are simply to show love to everyone we meet, no matter who they are. The whole world is now our neighbor.
As the song goes, “Put a little love in your heart, And the world will be a better place, And the world will be a better place, For you and me, You just wait and see.”