Love Your Enemies . . . What?!!

No where, ever, will you find this command in the rules for any nation, any organization, any religion . . . but for Christianity. These words were spoken by Our Lord Himself, not to living saints who hung on His every word, but to his disciples, rough fishermen, common people whose lives were already hard enough. He speaks to you and me.

Think for a moment . . . do you have any enemies? I mean real enemies, someone who wants bad things to happen to you – someone who tries to hurt you?

If you lived in Israel or Palestine, you could answer “yes”. For the Jew it would be “the Palestinians”, for the Palestinian, it would be “the Jews”. For the Serbians, it’s the Croats (and vice-versa). And on it goes; Huttus vs. Tutsis, Christians vs. Moslems, and here in America, we could say at times, even Democrats and Republicans.

How about you? Do you have any enemies? I’m hard pressed to answer “yes” to that. I have people who don’t like me or don’t trust me (and me toward them); perhaps they are a rival, but I can’t say I know anyone who is my enemy.

Does this clear us from the Lord’s command? I don’t think so. In the same way Jesus expanded the other commandments of the Torah – – – from shall not kill to shall not grow angry, from shall not commit adultery to shall not even look lustfully – – – so now my “enemy” becomes someone who doesn’t necessarily “hate” me, but rather someone who “stands in my way”.

My enemy becomes someone who thinks differently than I. It is someone who makes me afraid, someone who, yes, doesn’t like me, or someone who hurt me, and by golly, I’m not going to forget that.

And what do we do with this new “expanded” version of enemy? We avoid that person. We gather people around us who feel the same way about that person.

You can see how this natural response to an opposing force begins to divide the human family. Fear, retaliation, mistrust become the atmosphere between families, co-workers, political parties, cultures, religions, and nations.

How can this situation, given human nature, ever change? Or, do we even want it to change? (Isn’t it easier to keep my enemies my enemy?!)

No. Jesus, if we choose to listen to him, says, “love your enemy.”

But HOW? (Please know I’m trying to do these myself, and many of you are much better at this than I am).

Thoughts to help me love my enemy:

  • To love doesn’t mean to feel “sweet” toward my
    enemy. Bottom line, it means to want what is good for them, “that they be well”.
  • Who knows what hurtful events have marked their lives. Perhaps their response to me is really just them trying not to be hurt again.
  • Inside every human being is someone who (because we are made in God’s image) wants to love and be loved – every one of us. So, my “enemy” is like me!
  • How would I wish to be treated by this person? Do that for them.
  • In the end, God is bigger than my feelings and fears. If He commands it, then He will help me do it.
  • It’s going to hurt. It’s part of the cross we carry for the love of Christ.
  • No one really wants to have or be . . . an enemy.
  • In the end, my enemy is my brother, my sister.

God help us all with these things. Jesus wants us to love like Him and His Father everyone.

A blessed week to you

Fr. Tim