I covered Masses this weekend in Exeter and Milligan, Nebraska (pop. 514 and 241 respectively) and it was fun. But all the same, I made them take out their missals and follow along on page 202 for the 2nd Reading because, well, I'm a one-trick pony.
Jesus commands us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Well, St. Paul thinks it's pretty lucky for us that God practices what he preaches. In Romans 5 today, Paul reflects that when we were still enemies of God, it was at that time that Christ died for us.
Enemies. Ungodly. Sinners deserving of wrath. Thus does Paul describe us all. And to drive the point home he does grudgingly admit that maybe, just maybe, one might rake together enough courage to die for a really good man. Here I think Paul is referencing a well-known heroic story from the Greco-Roman world when he grants them this possibility. But all of that was just so Paul would be able to say, "And we weren't anything even close to that level of good people, or to being that kind of good friend." If I'm right about Paul thinking of that heroic story at this moment, then it's all the more fitting that Jesus followed up his call to love our enemies by noting that if you only love your friends, what's impressive about that? even the pagan Gentiles love their people that much.
Paul can be deep, or clever, or poetic, or culturally savvy. But in this handful of verses, he is all four.