LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
(A biblical reflection on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C], 20 February 2022)
Gospel Reading: Luke 6:27-38
First Reading: 1Samuel 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23; Psalms: Psalm 103:1-4,8-10,12-13; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 15:45-49
The Scripture Text
“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away take your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:27-38 RSV)
“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
To a person who is struggling through a bad day or who is in the midst of a trying relationship, these words of Jesus can be hard-hitting. “What am I supposed to do? Let people walk all over me? Is this what Jesus really wants?” We can understand this passage best in light of today’s other New Testament reading, “As the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven” (1Corinthians 15:48). The strength to bear insults and scorn with patience can only come from above.
Instead of laying a heavy weight on His hearers, Jesus was teaching them about the nature of God – which He had come to impart to all of us. When we receive Jesus into our hearts, we are given something new: the transforming power of His life. This new life in us raises us up to become spiritual women and men. It’s the mercy of God at work in us, not our own power, that allows us to love our enemies. His Spirit will give us compassion for them and a desire for their good and not their harm.
Jesus illustrated this teaching with His whole life. He didn’t feel particularly warm toward those who persecuted and eventually crucified Him, but His concern for them – His love for them – prompted Him to ask His Father not to hold their faults and blindness against them. This is a far cry from a desire for vengeance and retaliation which can seem so natural to us.
As we learn to submit ourselves to the Spirit, our way of thinking will be transformed. We will move from bondage to resentment, hatred, and fear into the freedom of conscience that is the mark of every spiritual woman and man. Of course, we will come up against resistance from our old nature. But that only means we’re on the right track. Let us continue to ask the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can become powerful witnesses to the world around us.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, I trust You to release me from unforgiveness and hatred and bitterness. Continue to conform me to Jesus so that I might become a light for Him to the world. Amen.
Jakarta, 19 February 2022
A Christian Pilgrim