REFLECTION: Loving our enemies PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 September 2014 14:12

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

WE need to prepare ourselves to follow this commandment expressly articulated by Christ. We have to have a strong faith to trust his words, so that we would not consider them as a mere bluff, an empty puffy rhetoric, but rather as what is true, proper and ideal for us.

We have to have a strong faith to trust his words, so that we would readily understand that they are meant for all of us, and not just for some, and that they are necessary and obligatory, and not merely optional, though they have to be taken up freely, and not coercively.

Let’s listen again to what he said: (Lk 6,27-38) “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.”

He continued: “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

If we are God’s image and likeness, if we are his children through Christ in the Holy Spirit, and therefore meant to adopt his mind, his will and his ways, and ultimately to enter into the very life of God, then we have no other alternative but to make this explicit injunction second nature to us.

Obviously we cannot follow this principle on our own, relying solely on our own powers. We need God himself to enable us to do so. And he has given us that power through his grace which he gives us in abundance through his living word, through his sacraments, through his Church, and in many other mysterious ways unknown to us.

In fact, God gives himself to us through Christ who makes himself the “bread of life” which he asks us to eat, otherwise we would not have “life in abundance.” It’s really just for us to believe, to make that leap of faith, going beyond but never neglecting what our senses and reason can capture, so we can enter into a far richer reality given to us by faith.

This is the challenge we have to face—how to free ourselves from the controlling grip of our senses and reasoning, of our own human consensus and estimations of things, and to let ourselves be guided by the mysterious ways of our faith, full of wisdom and charity albeit always accompanied by sacrifices.

This would require nothing less than God’s grace which we can always safely presume is given to us freely and abundantly. What we have to demand on ourselves is a lot of humility, of simplicity and obedience. Pride makes us deaf and blind, insensitive to the ways of God, and makes us our own guide, instead of God.

To be sure, if we follow this commandment, we would be loving God and others the way Christ himself has loved his Father and all of us. It’s a love that is totally inclusive on the part of the lover, though it may be rejected by the beloved.

It’s a love that would convert and transform us into another Christ, if not Christ himself (alter Christus, ipse Christus), for love, the real love that comes from God, has that power of making the lover united and identified with the beloved.

That is why God became man, and Jesus Christ emptied himself completely to assume our human nature in its best and worst conditions. This love shown to us by Christ is the standard of our love. Therefore, loving others the way Christ loves us is loving Christ in others, and thus transforms us to Christ.

To be concrete about all this, we can practice and develop this love simply by being demanding on ourselves while being very understanding, forgiving, lenient on others, always trying to find excuses for them, eager to carry their burden.

Especially now in the contention-prone areas of politics and social media, where all kinds of ideas and comments come, including the most reckless, thoughtless, mannerless ones, we have wonderful opportunities to live and develop this true love.

Let’s try to examine ourselves on how our attitude and behavior are when confronted with unpleasant views and resistance from others. Can we really say, we are loving our enemies?