Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, I share one of the most difficult responsibilities of a true believer—love of enemies.
Many of us believe we do quite a pretty good job of loving one another. But then, we notice that particular case, or scenario, when someone hurt us terribly. We remember a past arising from pure hatred against us or our loved ones. We notice we are stuck in that incident. We aren’t sure if we would treat that felon, that liar, etc., with love.
Many of us have been there. We may have been victims of hate and ugly rejection. It could be in the family. It could be due to the jealousy of colleagues who see you as a contrast to their ways. It could even be within your faith community.
Hatred and rejection appear in many forms. It could be at a personal or social level. It could be political where people hate you simply because you hold a view that isn’t popular or the way of which they approve. It could be because of your faith which others reject and they persecute you for it.
The issue is that once your life isn’t another’s, there is a high probability of lovers and haters. This is inescapable in our world. The only way to escape it is to live in your own world, where there is no other person except you. That isn’t going to happen, you know.
If this is the clear situation, what are we to do? An option is to return hatred for hatred and love for love. In other words, we love those who love us and hate those who hate us. To live by this ethical standard would be the most terrible thing we would do to ourselves. It is to put ourselves on an emotional roller-coaster. It is spiritually unhealthy too.
A child of God, and indeed an ethical person, shouldn’t use being hated as a reason for being a hater. Hatred of any person no matter how terrible they may be is not a Christian model. A true believer treats each people with dignity and respect. Even for a criminal, or violent felons, hate does not repair the harm they have done; neither is it the right disposition for justice. For us Catholics, to willfully hate anyone is a sin against charity (CCC 2303).
There is a Christ-way of dealing with temptation to hate. In talking to the disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ gives a model that is actually challenging. He proposes love of enemies as the way to live in a world of hate and be a true disciple of his (Lk 6:27-38).
I know this is tough to swallow. How can I love that person who is after my life, my good name, my fortunes and my successes? How can I love the persons who daily poke fun at the values I treasure? How can I love a clear hater and a public persecutor of my faith? How can I love a sibling or a relative who has dealt me a deadly, sabotaging wound?
We may ask these questions over and over again? An answer is that we can’t do so if we are following worldly standards. We can’t if we live like those born of and bound to earthly concerns. It is when we embrace the grace of the Heavenly One, the Lord, that our earthly life could be transformed into the heavenly standards (cf. 1 Cor 15:45-49). We begin to live in a Godly manner.
When the Lord gave the instruction to love our enemies, which the Gospel of Luke reports (Lk 6:27-38; see also a similar version in Mtt 5:38-42), he was actually addressing the reality the disciples face, and would continue to face. He was addressing the fact that they and we would be persecuted. We would be rejected by many among whom we live. Yet, the Lord asks us to offer love as a response to hate.
It is love of enemies that makes us stand apart from others as God’s special children; those born anew in the spirit. Recall that David returned love to King Saul despite the fact that the latter was in pursuit of the former to kill him (1 Sam 26:7-23). Like David, we lead that way of love. Unlike David, we do so not simply because the person is an anointed king or pastor; rather, because the person in a human being, created in the image and likeness of God. Hate not whatever the Lord has created. Love is everything.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[7thWeek Ordinary Time: 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9,12-13,22-23; 1Cor 15:45-49; Lk 6:27-38]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.