To fulfill Jesus’ command to love my enemy, it is critical for me, in prayer, to ask myself the question, "Who or what do I take seriously?" Answering this question helps me to keep my eyes on what is beyond the day to day realities of imperfection and evil. I am part of the "people peculiarly God’s own" as the author of Deuteronomy (Dt) puts it. (Dt means "the second law" / the Ten Commandments.) The book of Dt. points out that we are to "walk in God’s ways and observe his commandments and hearken to his voice." Is God trying to get through to me, and am I doing my best to pay attention, which is another way of saying that I am taking life seriously?
Jesus goes on to stress upon us perfection as our heavenly Father is perfect. Perfection is "a sincere desire to go forward and increase in virtue, i.e. in loving God and our ‘neighbor."
That sincere desire is grounded, rooted in heart and soul, flesh and spirit. I conclude this reflection with a brief meditation on "discovering my soul,"– the assurance that my soul exists. Ponder these human experiences: something observed as beautiful; someone who exemplifies truth; when we sense moral goodness; the gift of freedom to choose; the voice of my conscience; longings to be happy; striving for that which is not yet; and realizing that what God wants me to become is still ahead of me. Just pondering one of these experience points toward the eternal, unconditional love offered freely, to us. Our "soul life" can be so life giving, if I pay attention. Do you remember "time out" at school or at home. While it was seen as punishment, it actually is one of the best ways to stay connected as one of God’s Peculiar People. Just try a minute of "time out," in utter silence. Just try it, I am.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.