The Challenge to Love Our Enemies

The Challenge to Love Our Enemies

The Challenge to Love Our Enemies

by | Feb 17, 2022

REFLECTION ON THE SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

The Scripture readings from this reflection: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor. How can you love your neighbor when most of the time you do not even know your neighbor?

In the Gospel today, Jesus goes even further and tells us to “Love your enemies.” Just how easy is it to love your enemies? It may be easy to say, “I love everyone, even my enemies.” But how hard is it to do it? When the paralytic was lowered through the roof in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven. The scribes grumbled and said that only God can forgive sins. Jesus asks, is it easier to say your sins are forgiven, or to say take up your mat and walk? Of course, it is easier to say your sins are forgiven. We cannot see our sins being forgiven. But all of us can see the person get up and walk. Again, it is easier to say, I love my enemies than to actually love them.

In the first reading, David shows us how to love our enemies. This was the second time that David showed us how to love our enemies. In Chapter 24 of First Samuel, King Saul went into a cave, not knowing that David and his men were in the innermost parts of the cave. Without Saul knowing, David came up behind Saul and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. He had the chance then to kill Saul. His men tried to get him to do it. However, David said that he would not put his hand against the Lord’s anointed.

You would think that King Saul would appreciate David for sparing his life. Here in Chapter 26, King Saul is still trying to kill David. Many think David would have every reason to kill Saul when he had the chance, so that he could save his own life. Saul has been after David for a long time. Now Abishai sees the chance to get rid of the problem. He says to David: “Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear.” David replies: “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished?”

WHO IS THE LORD’S ANOINTED?

In Biblical times, anointing was a ceremony where someone was installed into an important office. Those that were anointed were anointed to do a special job that God had assigned. There were three different types of people that were anointed: Prophets, Priests, and Kings. Prophets were anointed because they spoke for God. God gave them the message they were to deliver. They represented God to the people. Priests represented the people to God. They reconnected the people to God. Kings were anointed before they began to rule. The Kings were chosen by God.

Earlier in this book, when Samuel was to find another king, God sent him to Jesse to pick one of his sons. Samuel went through all of his sons until he came to his youngest, which was David. The one that God picked.

Why should we worry about the Lord’s anointed in today’s world? By our baptism as Christians, we are the Lord’s anointed. We are baptized into Jesus’ ministry as Prophet, Priest, and King. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus and sons and daughters of God. In a broader sense, we are all children of God. Those that we consider our enemies, are God’s children, his anointed. Therefore, we should not harm them.

I read a story about a lady whose 20-year-old son was killed by a 16-year-old boy after a party. He was involved in drugs and gangs. He was tried as an adult. He was sentenced to 25 years. The mother of the boy who was killed wanted justice. Her son was gone! She hated this boy and his mother. She said that murder was like a tsunami. She was in shock! She lived with hatred and anger.

The mother of the boy who was killed decided to begin a support group for other mothers whose children had been murdered. She eventually discovered through her healing that she was just like the mother whose son was in jail. They both had losses and both needed support.

After a number of years in prison, the mother whose son was murdered wanted to meet the person who killed her son. She felt compelled to see if there was a way in which she could forgive her son’s killer. At first, the man in prison refused to see her. However, he did change his mind. The first thing that she said was: “Look, you don’t know me. I don’t know you. Let’s just start with right now.”

They met regularly, and when he was eventually released from prison, she introduced him to her landlord. He even moved into her building. They are now close friends. She says it is because of her strong religious beliefs: “Unforgiveness is like a cancer. It will eat you from the inside out. It’s not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he’s done. Yes, he murdered my son—but the forgiveness is for me.” Let us learn to love our enemies!