Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
In today’s gospel reading, Luke presents us with the core of Jesus’ gospel: To love even our enemies.
The Servant of God did not love only his family and friends; neither was his love limited only to the poor. He brought himself and those around him to the point of loving even the enemies, big or small. There were some who, at times, wanted to deprive him of his rights, While showing that he was aware of these rights, he loved these persons and never expressed any hatred or vengeance towards them. Others who put obstacles in the way of his plans, yet he was wise enough to know how to deal with these. He carefully prevented them from achieving their aim, but never hurt them.
During the riots of June 7, 1919, the Servant of God abandoned all his other duties and spent three whole days trying to restore peace between the Maltese and their British governors; he fought for the rights of his countrymen. Still, some members of the Maltese people blamed him for the socio-economic disaster Malta found itself in. A few stole his wallet from his pocket, but he was asked testify at the commission of inquiry, he did not mention this.
Some youths who joined his Society did not seem to have any intention of remaining. They were only interested in getting a good education at his expense. De Piro expressed great sorrow at the loss of these potential members, but he never expressed any sense of resentment towards them.
He acted with great generosity towards many, both young and old, yet they did not always repay him with good deeds, or show him their gratitude. Some even tied to hurt him with their words or behaviour; he always forgave them and continued to help them as if nothing had happened.
In the Constitutions he wrote for his Society, the Servant of God spoke very strongly with regards to the love members should express among themselves, and even about the love of enemy: “They are always to be ready to reconcile themselves whenever, through human weakness, there is a rift between them; each one is to consider it an honour to be the first one to ask for forgiveness, even if he was the one who was offended. This reconciliation should not be postponed for the following day, as St Paul says: ‘Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’ (Eph 4, 26).” During the conferences he delivered to the Brother novices in 1929-30, De Piro was equally strong on this subject.