A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Loving Our Enemies

Posted on: January 28, 2016

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

We may not like everything others do, but when their words and actions generally show that they care for us and want the best for us, loving someone who loves us isn’t much of a challenge.

Loving our enemies, on the other hand…

We may have this idea that Christians love everyone. We’re supposed to, since all people—regardless of their faith (or lack of faith) or the fact that they may have done awful things in their lives—are children of God. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there are people we dislike. People whose attitudes rub us the wrong way. People who use us to move ahead in their careers or betray a confidence or lie, yet aren’t concerned about the effects of their actions.

Jesus told us to love them anyway:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45*)

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)

We might be tempted to lash out at those who hurt us by confronting them with angry words, speaking harshly about them to others, or looking for a way to make them “pay” for what they’ve done. But we’re called to move past those angry feelings, as the apostle Paul pointed out in Romans 12:19, 21:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”. . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We too have our moments when we’re selfish and ungrateful, when we don’t worry enough about the consequences of what we say and do, when we hurt others. If we would want them to show us mercy, shouldn’t we do the same? If the angry feelings linger, shouldn’t we pray to reach that point where we forgive those who hurt us? We won’t forget what happened, and we may struggle to trust them again, but we’re freed from being consumed by hate or bitterness or self-pity.

To move away from the anger and hurt and toward forgiveness and mercy, may we remember the fact that we’d want to be forgiven if we hurt others—and remember all that God has forgiven us.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

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3 Responses to "Loving Our Enemies"

Thanks for writing this; I just think more people have to speak lovingly about the nature of Christ, his character, example and teaching when it comes to loving our enemies. A while back I spoke to this sort of topic this way: https://moreenigma.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/put-the-sword-back/

Shalom.

Very well said; clear and concise. I might add that I believe that it is completely appropriate to defend ourselves, but in doing so we still must be careful with our attitude behind our defense. The sin lies in our motives.

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
-St. Augustine

I couldn’t agree more! very profound perspective and beautifully spoken!

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