At the convent of the St. Francis Church along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City is a painting of our Lord Jesus with a worried expression, where His statement ‘Love your enemy’ is written. This quote is one, if not the most difficult command of Jesus to His followers.
The world today is full of conflict and misunderstandings. It is the most difficult time to be a parent, elder, or leader especially that there is so much confusion and distraction brought about by dishonesty, crime or any wrongdoing in the past and present. When society is besieged by years of doubt and mistrust, frustration can turn into anger and aggression.
When people respond by any act of aggression, more conflict results. The culture of revenge is perpetuated especially when harm has been going on for many years, decades even, such that the original act which started the conflict is even long erased from memory. The conflict becomes an end in itself.
It is therefore timely and refreshing to reflect in this Sunday’s Gospel, as our Lord said,
‘You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…’ (Mt. 5: 43-45)
Jesus offers a fresh approach to conflict that says we should extend forgiveness and offer more than what is taken; we should offer love. This abundant response may not be our first reaction especially in the heat of the moment. Especially if we’ve been hurt for a long time. Indeed, this is very hard to follow, but Jesus gives us the commandments as a guide or map to reach Him and our final destination. The power to forgive — and to love our enemies — is God’s divine power and is free for those who desire it. This is the same power that healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead, among others. This is the power that made Jesus rise from the dead in full majesty and glory.
Growing in holiness involves not just by avoiding sin, but should include doing good. Jesus commands us to do more, ‘magis’, than just the barest minimum to get through. Being a Christian isn’t easy.
In the end, we should ask ourselves, ‘Is Jesus worth it?’ Your answer will determine whether you will ‘love your enemy’ or not.
‘Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him.’ (1 Jn. 2: 5)