Grace to you!
I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s reflection on dealing with anger. Your feedback is always welcome. Today’s, on love of enemies, follows from it.
Love of enemies is one of the hardest things to do. How do we love those people 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 simply because she is doing the right thing? You may have better examples closer home to you. It is extremely difficult to do so. It actually seems unnatural for one to love an enemy.
Truly, many religions do not preach love for enemies. Jesus proposed something completely radical. Love not only the neighbor or friend, but also the enemy (Mt. 5:44). He added to this radical call, a more stunning element: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:43b). This is Jesus’ model, the Christian model.
How is 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. In fact, 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 John 4:16). Not to love is to repudiate the entire person, not simply his or her looks, voice, etc.
Nonetheless, love doesn’t necessarily mean friendship, nor does it mean becoming buddies with everyone. It implies in our hearts that 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. This inspires us to bear with the person’s “shortcomings.” We choose to love, just as we choose to practice virtue and to respond to God.
Good news is, the grace of love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Rom 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.
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]
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.