“But I say to you: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And pray for those who persecute and slander you.” –Matthew 5:44
Praying for Your Enemies
Attending Daily Mass recently, I listened to the Gospel and heard a homily about forgiving and loving our enemies. I have heard many homilies on the subject but his time the words I heard inspired me to think harder and pray more on the topic. The topic of understanding what it really means to pray for our enemies and to love them. There is no greater teaching within the Christian Catholic faith than loving our enemies since it is truly the most challenging. We cannot do this unless we have God and the Holy Spirit with us. Loving our friends and family has its challenges, but loving enemies and those hardest to love is just about impossible without God’s help.
“Do good to those who hate you” is a hard concept to accept for anyone. In today’s world, we see so often the “us against them” mentality in the world and in politics. When we turn on the TV or get news on our phones, it’s there. It has brought about a defensiveness in our world that separates people. God seems to be absent in the bitterness, but he is still there even in those challenging moments. We can find God in the courage we display when we may be the only one in a room who refuses to participate in bad-mouthing others and gossip. God is present in those times.
Jesus prayed and he loved his enemies when he walked the earth. He is still “loving his enemies” through our God-centered actions which bring his love to others. When we make a decision not to participate in the negative and mean-spirited reactions, we are giving love to others. When we walk away from unkindness and bitterness, we are loving. It may seem to be a passive activity, but it is grace-filled.
We can also love our enemies through kind actions they may never have experienced before. These actions may be a kind deed toward them anonymously or praying for them without them ever knowing. Since God knows our hearts, he can transform our prayers into something spectacular in our lives. The good we do may be unnoticed by the world but known to God’s heart. This is all that really matters.
When I have felt weak in my soul, the Sacraments and prayer have given me the grace to pray and love my enemies in the best way I can. We may not see the fruits of our prayer while we are alive, but we must trust that God can and will transform hate into love and rejection into acceptance. He can take the impossible and transform it with his love.