Love Your Enemies

When the topic of enemies arises, each person has his/her own opinion.  I would like to begin this reflection with two questions: “Do you have enemies?”  And more importantly, “Are you someone’s enemy?”

Regarding enemies, we need to ask why a person has that disposition toward us. Sometimes, it is because we have wronged a person, whether we are aware of it or not. If we have acted in a way that has resulted in another person being our enemy, we need to resolve the situation and ask for forgiveness. If others hate us, although we have done nothing wrong, they may be our opponents because of the way we think or even because of the way live our faith. In these situations, there is nothing we can do, except to put into practice what Jesus teaches us: Love your enemies, pray that they will change.

Being a follower of Christ is not easy.  His teaching about love is great, but there is a difficulty when we have to apply this commandment to our enemies.  Enemies may be set on doing something against us, against our family, or against our country. Sometimes, enemies are those whom we have offended; others, however, can be people who, without any provocation on our part, want to harm us.  Our hope would be that we would not have enemies; yet in reality this is not always possible.

If we have enemies, we should love them, for in so doing we live the gospel of Christ. Today’s gospel passage instructs us: For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? Loving enemies and praying for them is the way we can be witnesses of our God who loved and reconciled us “even while we were God’s enemies” (Rom 5:10).

I realize that living this love poses many challenges for us;  even so, through love we become sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. We cannot avoid this commandment. We cannot ignore this part of Jesus’ teaching because it is difficult, or because we do not like it.  The beginning of love is forgiveness, and forgiveness will lead us to compassion and understanding, and will help us to do good even to our enemies and to love them. In our world, there is much hatred.  It is essential that we show the real face of God, who is love. Show your love for your enemies in small ways: in greeting them, in the help you offer them, in all that you do for them.

Remember: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).