“You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies.”

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5:43-44

The sign of a true Christian is to love your enemies. If you love only those who love you, then you are no different than members of the Mafia or people who embrace a life of corruption.

“What good does it do you if you love only those who love you,” sayest the Lord. “Even corrupt tax collectors do that.” (Matthew 5:46)

True love is hard to find. According to St. John, it consists in this: “that God loved us first and sent His Son to redeem us” (1 John 4:10). What does this mean? Surely, it means that love has its origin in God for God is love. He sent us His son who is love in flesh and blood to redeem us and to show us how to live.

God’s love is unconditional. He shows no partiality for “He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” ( Matthew 5:45 ) We cannot say we love God who created everyone out of love if we hate our brother or sister whom His Son died for on the cross. Wow! If we could put this Christ-like love into practice, the world with all its sin would be redeemed.

The real test of our love for one another, is how we treat those whom we don’t like; those who are opposed to us or who persecute us. Do you treat them impartially? Can you rise above feelings of resentment or anger and do the right thing in spite of having been wronged? Can you forgive them? You don’t have to like your enemy, or approve of any wrongdoing he or she may have committed, but you do have to love your enemy. You must forgive and pray for them for they too are children of God.

There is a beautiful poem by Coleridge called ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ It is a story of redemption about a sailor who returned home after a voyage around the world; a voyage that changed him profoundly, and gave him a new understanding of life and of his connectedness with nature and all of humanity. He could not keep his vision to himself; he had to share it with a distracted wedding guest for he had discovered the power of God’s unconditional love for everything and everyone. Thus he wrote:

“He prays best who loves best,
all things both great and small,
for the dear Lord who created us,
He created one and all.”

You must try to love one another, even your enemies, because Christ died on the cross, not just for you, but also for your enemies.

That is why Jesus says: ” Love your enemies.”

Fr. Hugh Duffy

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