Jesus talks a lot about compassion,  love, and doing good. It would be easy to take him for a big ol’ softy or just a “nice guy” gushing on about how we ought to be nice to people. Jesus was all about love and compassion, and the Gospels show that he was also tender, kind and merciful. But in no way was he just a “nice guy,” he said and did things that ultimately got him killed. Nice guys don’t’ get themselves killed, now do they?

Today he urges the disciples to love their enemies. This is a very disturbing thing to fathom. Why would you do something so crazy as to love and pray for those who actively oppose and are hostile to you? Jesus tells us that rain falls and the sun shines whether we merit it or not.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be nice, he wants us to love with the heart of his Father, who loves whether we merit it or not. This is how he challenges, no, commands us to do something that seems foolish and definitely makes us uncomfortable. Some nice guy, right?

—Alfonso Pizano, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the California Province, studying philosophy at Fordham University.