Matthew 5:48

Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Epist., 138, 2: Some object that this command of Christ is altogether inconsistent with civil life in Commonwealths; Who, say they, would suffer, when he could hinder it, the pillage of his estate by an enemy; or would not repay the evil suffered by a plundered province of Rome on the plunderers according to the rights of war? But these precepts of patience are to be observed in readiness of the heart, and that mercy, not to return evil for evil, must be always fulfilled by the will. Serm. in Mont., i, 21: That there were degrees in the righteousness of the Pharisees which was under the old Law is seen herein, that many hated even those by whom they were loved. He therefore who loves his neighbour, has ascended one degree, though as yet he hate his enemy; which is expressed in that, “and shalt hate thy enemy;” which is not to be understood as a command to the justified, but a concession to the weak. cont. Faust., xix, 24: I ask the Manichaeans why they would have this peculiar to the ...

Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
The Lord has shown that we cannot have the good work of perfect love if we love only those from whom in turn we know the return of mutual love will be paid in kind. For we know that love of this sort is common even to nonbelievers and sinners. Hence the Lord wishes us to overcome the common law of human love by the law of gospel love, so that we may show the affection of our love not only toward those who love us but even toward our enemies. … Thus we may imitate the example of true piety and our Father’s goodness. . ...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Jesus Christ here sums up his instructions by ordering us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; i.e. to imitate, as far as our exertions, assisted by divine grace, can reach, the divine perfection. (Witham) See here the great superiority of the new over the old law. But let no one hence take occasion to despise the old. Let him examine attentively, says St. Chrysostom, the different periods of time, and the persons to whom it was given; and he will admire the wisdom of the divine Legislator, and clearly perceive that it is one and the same Lord, and that each law was to the great advantage of mankind, and wisely adapted to the times of their promulgation. For, if among the first principles of rectitude, these sublime and eminent truths had been found, perhaps neither these, nor the less perfect rules of morality would have been observed; whereas, by disposing of both in their proper time, the divine wisdom has employed both for the correction of the world. (Hom. xviii.) See...

Glossa Ordinaria

AD 1480
Non occ.: The Lord has taught above that we must not resist one who offers any injury, but must be ready even to suffer more; He now further requires us toshew to them that do us wrong both love and its effects. And as the things that have gone before pertain to the completion of the righteousness of the Law, inlike manner this last precept is to be referred to the completion of the law of love, which, according to the Apostle, is the fulfilling of the Law. ord.: But it should be known, that in the whole body of the Law it is no where written, Thou shalt hate thy enemy. But it is to be referred to the tradition of the Scribes, who thought good to add this to the Law, because the Lord bade the children of Israel pursue their enemies, and destroy Amalek from under heaven. ord.: They who stand against the Church oppose her in three ways; with hate, with words, and with bodily tortures. The Church on the other hand loves them, as it is here, “Love your enemies;” does good to them, as it is...

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
Mor., xxii, 11: Love to an enemy is then observed when we are not sorrowful athis success, or rejoice in his fall. We hate him whom we wish not to be bettered, and pursue with ill-wishes the prosperity of the man in whose fall we rejoice. Yet it may often happen that without any sacrifice of charity, the fall of an enemy may gladden us, and again his exaltation make us sorrowful without any suspicion of envy; when, namely, by his fall any deserving man is raised up, or by his success any undeservedly depressed. But herein a strict measure of discernment must be observed, lest in following out our own hates, we hide it from ourselves under the specious pretence of others’ benefit. We should balance how much we owe to the fall of the sinner, how much to the justice of the Judge. For when the Almighty has struck any hardened sinner, we must at once magnify His justice as Judge, and feel with the other’s suffering who perishes. ...

Hilary of Poitiers

AD 368
Or, the sun and rain have reference to the baptism with water and Spirit.
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Hilary of Poitiers

AD 368
Matthew concludes, “All things are perfected by goodness.” The law used to demand that your neighbor be loved and allowed hatred against an enemy. Faith, rather, requires that enemies be cherished. It breaks the tendency we have to be peevish and urges us to bear life’s difficulties calmly. Faith not only deters anger from turning into revenge but even softens it into love for the injurer. It is merely human to love those who love you, and it is common to cherish those who cherish you. Therefore Christ calls us into the life of heirs of God and to be models for the just and the unjust of the imitation of Christ. He distributes the sun and the rain through his coming in baptism and by the sacraments of the Spirit. Thus he has prepared us for the perfect life through this concord of public goodness, because we must imitate our perfect Father in heaven. ...


AD 420
Many measuring the commandments of God by their own weakness, not by the strength of the saints, hold these commands for impossible, and say that it is virtue enough not to hate our enemies; but to love them is a command beyond human nature to obey. But it must be understood that Christ enjoins not impossibilities but perfection. Such was the temper of David towards Saul and Absalom; the Martyr Stephen also prayed for his enemies while they stoned him, and Paul wished himself anathema for the sake of his persecutors. For whoso keeps the commandments of God is thereby made the son of God; he then of whom he here speaks is not by nature His son, but by his own will. ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Note through what steps we have now ascended hither, and how He has set us on the very pinnacle of virtue. The first step is, not to begin to do wrong toany; the second, that in avenging a wrong done to us we be content with retaliating equal; the third, to return nothing of what we have suffered; the fourth, to offer one’s self to the endurance of evil; the fifth, to be ready to suffer even more evil than the oppressor desires to inflict; the sixth, not to hate him of whom we suffer such things; the seventh, to love him; the eighth, to do him good; the ninth, to pray for him. And because the command is great, the reward proposed is also great, namely, to be made like unto God, “Ye shall be the sons of your Father which is in heaven.”. He was careful to say, “On the righteous and the unrighteous;’ for God gives all good gifts not for men’s sake, but for the saints’ sake, as likewise chastisements for the sake of sinners. In bestowing His good gifts, He does not separate the sinners fro...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
And He intersperses everywhere abundantly the name of the heavens, by the very place thoroughly elevating their minds. For as yet, I know not how, they were somewhat weak and dull. Let us then, bearing in mind all the things which have been said, show forth great love even towards our enemies; and let us cast away that ridiculous custom, to which many of the more thoughtless give way, waiting for those that meet them to address them first. Towards that which has a great blessing, they have no zeal; but what is ridiculous, that they follow after. Wherefore now do you not address him first? Because he is waiting for this, is the reply. Nay, for this very reason most of all you should have sprung forward to him, that you might win the crown. No, says he, since this was his object. And what can be worse than this folly? That is, Because this, says he, was his object—to become procurer of a reward for me—I will not put my hand to what he has thus suggested. Now if he first address you...
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Rabanus Maurus

AD 856
If then sinners be led by nature to show kindness to those that love them, with how much greater show of affection ought you not to embrace even those that donot love you?. Ethnici, that is, the Gentiles, for the Greek word is translated ‘gens’in Latin; those, that is, who abide such as they were born, to wit, under sin. ...
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Remigius of Rheims

AD 533
Because the utmost perfection of love cannot go beyond the love of enemies, therefore as soon as the Lord has bid us love our enemies, He proceeds, “Be yet hen perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He indeed isperfect, as being omnipotent; man, as being aided by the Omnipotent. For the word ‘as’ is used in Scripture, sometimes for identity, and equality, as in that, “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee;” sometimes to express likeness only as here. ...
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Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
. To love some men, that is, one’s own friends, and to hate others, is imperfection. Perfection is to love every one.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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