February 27, 2021
Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase and incorporate it in your prayers today.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (from Matthew 5:43-38)
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES: These are perhaps the most challenging three words Jesus ever spoke – love your enemies. I suspect that Jesus lost some disciples the day he placed this “impossible” task before them.
We use the word ‘love’ loosely in our society. We talk about our love of people the same way we talk about our love of ice cream or the love we have for our favorite vacation spot. However, the love to which Jesus calls us is different. He calls us to love as God loves us – unconditionally and unreservedly.
It is easy for us to love our spouse, our family, and our friends. It is even easy to extend love to those we don’t know well, as long as they think like us and hold the same values. It is more difficult, however, to love those that offend our sensibilities, stand opposed to our belief system, live a lifestyle foreign to us, challenge our faith, or perhaps even hate us.
Yet, these people – that Jesus refers to as our enemies – are exactly who we are called to love. We don’t need to defend their actions, applaud their decisions, or agree with their politics – but we do need to love them. We don’t need to compromise our value system or throw up our hands in defeat – but we do need to love our enemies.
To love our enemies is to show respect, accept differences with humility, and offer kindness and compassion always. To love our enemies is to love others as God loves us.
How will we respond to this “impossible” task Jesus places before us? Will we walk away too?