Love Your Enemies

02-20-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh

It is quite normal to reciprocate acts of love, but there is a genuine reluctance for humans to love those who manifestly hate and do not wish one well. To love those who love you is a natural human instinctive reaction; loving your traducers, on the other hand, can only be a conscious and deliberate choice made at a usually huge cost that normal people are not readily willing to incur. A Christian is, however, not a “normal” person governed purely by instincts. He or she is a child of God, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and called to be holy as “your heavenly Father is holy.” Love of all, including one’s haters, is therefore proper to the Christian since such a seemingly outlandish discipline only authenticates his discipleship.

This weekend, Jesus invites us in the Gospel to aim at Christian perfection by loving our enemies, doing good to our malefactors, and blessing those who curse us. The Divine Redeemer rightly pointed out that even sinners instinctively love their benefactors. Thus, we limit ourselves to worldly standards and instinctive living if we love only those who are lovable. The true disciple ought to exceed man-determined boundaries of virtue and reach for perfection by loving even those the world places no obligation on us to love. This novel doctrine of Jesus invites us to reconsider our relationship with those we deem “unlovable,” those who radically disagree with us on ma‚ ers like religion, politics, and other existential issues, as well as those who hurt us or bear ill thoughts about us. If we hate those who harbor ill will against us, we become converts to hate and so hinder true conversion. But when we love them we place before them an open, and most o[ en irresistible, invitation to share with us the joys of the Gospel and true discipleship.

The first reading demonstrates how difficult, yet how very possible and spiritually rewarding, it is to love those who hate you. King Saul, Israel’s first monarch, had developed a hatred for David out of sheer envy and was searching for him to assassinate. David found Saul sleeping within an ineffective barricade formed by his equally sleeping guards. The King was extremely vulnerable and Abishai, one of David’s warriors, counseled David to let him pin Saul down with a single thrust of the spear. The situation seemed arranged to place Saul into David’s hands, yet David refused the “counsel of the wicked” and resisted the temptation to execute vengeance. Instead, the future king a[ er God’s own heart spared King Saul refusing to touch the Lord’s anointed. David teaches us an important lesson, not only in love and forgiveness of maleficence but also in handling “enemies” who legitimately occupy positions of service be it political or religious. It is sometimes an act of faith to leave room for the justice and mercy of God rather than to an attempt to serve justice ourselves to maleficent holders of the Sacred office.

May God grant growth to our faith and may we seek reconciliation with and even love for our enemies.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh