Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us to love our enemies.
And Jesus showed us how to do it. Immediately after being fixed to the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” One of the most important elements of Jesus’ kingdom ethic was, accordingly, the praxis of forgiveness: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
As Walter Wink has pointed out, these recommendations have nothing to do with passivity in the face of evil. Rather, they embody a provocative but nonviolent manner of confronting evil and conquering it through a practice of coinherent love. By forgiving those putting him to death, Jesus is awakening them to the truth in which they already stand: their connectedness to him and to each other in God.