Love for Enemies
Grace to you!
I hope you enjoyed the previous reflection on dealing with anger. Your feedback is always welcome. Today's, on the love of enemies, is a sequel to it.
Love of enemies is one of the hardest things to do. How do we love those people, who we are convinced, are actively working hard for our downfall? How would an employee love a supervisor who willingly set her up to terminate her job only because she is doing the right thing? You may have better examples closer home to you. It is challenging to do so. It seems unnatural for one to love an enemy.
Many religions do not preach love for enemies. The Lord Jesus proposed something completely radical. He asks us to love not only the neighbor or our friend but also our enemy (Mt. 5:44). He added to this radical call, a more stunning element: "Pray for those who persecute you" (Mt. 5:43b). It is Jesus' model, the Christian model.
How is the love of enemy possible, one may ask? It lies in the very nature of Christian love, agape. Christian love isn't necessarily to like somebody, though this is desired. As a Christian, you may or may not like somebody. For instance, you may not like the way somebody speaks, his or her favorite color, or the way the person eats.
Liking people is at the level of emotional taste or connections. To force people to like something is evil. It goes against human freedom.
But to love, and the excellent Christian call to love even an enemy is a divine law. Failure to do so impacts our spiritual life negatively.
Here is the reason. Love goes beyond emotions to the will and the core identity of individuals as those made in God's image and likeness. "God is love. To live in love is to live in God" (I Jn 4:16). Not to love is to repudiate the entire person, not merely his or her looks, voice, etc.
Nonetheless, love doesn't necessarily mean friendship, nor does it mean becoming buddies with everyone. It implies that in our hearts, we adopt a Godly attitude, to work beyond what we don't like in our neighbor to loving the entire person—God's image and likeness. It inspires us to bear with the person's shortcomings. We love the person for who they are—human beings—, not because of what good they do. We choose to love, just as we choose to practice virtue and to respond to God.
The good news is, the grace of love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5). The believer loves others, thanks to the grace of God. It is by the grace of God we love both the neighbor and the enemy.
We need to ask for more of this grace this Lent. The Eucharist is the fountain of this grace. When you receive the Lord in Communion, ask him to increase his love in your heart.
Praying God to grant us the grace of love, to love as Christ loves us.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday, Lenten Weekday, Week I: Dt. 26:1b-19; Mt 5:43-48]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.