As we proceed through Holy Week, what an appropriate time to address love for one’s enemies – one of the toughest things to do. Jesus gives clear instructions to love our enemies in Luke 6:27-36. It is within this passage that He explicitly tells us that no matter how others treat us, we are called to treat others in the same manner that we wish to be treated. Jesus, never one to mince words states, “love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for He, Himself, is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36). It is a tall order, but one, nonetheless, that we are expected to follow.
To provide an example, I’ll share a personal story from my own life. I was born with clubbed feet – meaning that all of the bones from my toes to my pelvis are slightly twisted causing curvatures and angles that look out of place. As a result, I spent much of my childhood having twelve surgeries on my feet. This meant plaster casts on my legs, walking with crutches, and when not recuperating from a surgery, I walked with braces up to my knees. Needless to say, I was the brunt of many jokes, sneers and derision at the hands of my cruel and sometimes vicious classmates. I was called names, and I felt marginalized. However, I had wonderful parents who taught me that anger only produces more anger; hatred only more hatred. I had a choice to make; I could retaliate or I could take the high road. With my parents help, I took the high road. My parents reinforced within me that I should treat others how I would like to be treated rather than how they treated me. I have found that it actually takes less energy to be kind than it does to be mean.
What stories might you have to share about loving your enemies? Enter the conversation.
How does one practice charity? We’ll address that in our next reflection on the virtue of Charity. Don’t miss it!