Love Your Enemies and Pray for Them

indignation, cussing, contempt

anger - man

If we can learn to love those whom we would otherwise call our enemies, we can grow closer to the Father. In this very familiar passage, Christ Jesus tells us that by simply loving those who love us, there is nothing to be gained.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor  and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Mt 5:43-48 

It becomes more important to me to pay attention to this passage as the world seems to spin more and more out of control. Bombings, mass shootings, decapitations on a large scale, stabbings, assaults, and on and on, the world has become a pool of hostility over the most recent few decades.

Conflict has long been seen as the way to issue resolution between enemies. That which represents itself as my mind brought an interesting tidbit of data to the surface recently. I do not recall the source of the data, but, the statement had been made that there was only one period of 200 years during the recorded history of the world which was free of war, and that was during the Egyptian rule, clearly a few thousand years ago.

From Then to Now

Decades, centuries, millennia pass by and the constant remains closely tied to a song by Kris Kristofferson

“Jesus Was a Capricorn (Owed to John Prine)”

“Some folks hate the Whites
Who hate the Blacks who hate the Klan
Most of us hate anything that
We don’t understand

‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Who they can feel better than at any time they please”

In the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century, in New York and other places, it was not uncommon to see a sign which read “Irish need not apply”, Italians were looked down upon as “garlic eaters”, and immigrants in general, were held in low esteem.

Two World Wars and many lesser conflicts later, and the world had not changed that much.  In the mid-twentieth century, my family lived in a very small town in Eastern Massachusetts.  The town was essentially WASP in composition and we were French, North American Indian, Roman Catholics.  Three strikes: French(1), Indian(2) and Catholic(3).

My father had gone to a town meeting when he had a knife pulled on him since the fellow holding the knife believed that my father did not pay school taxes as his sons went to parochial schools. Fortunately, the moderator and sergeant-at-arms were able to calm the situation and assure the fellow that my father indeed paid the same taxes as everyone else in the meeting.

Other than the knife issue, there was not a great deal of direct hostility which I recall as my parents tried their very best to shield their two boys from the environment. There was the occasional call of “mackerel snapper” since we ate fish on Fridays, but there were no fire bombings of our church, no effigies left on our lawn or hung from our porch.

Fast forward 60 or so years and there are aircraft slamming into buildings, mass shootings in movie theatres, night clubs, schools, there are hundreds of young women taken hostage from their schools, and there are protestations caused by police shooting alleged perpetrators. Police are castigated as a person who may have been stopped for a traffic citation, runs, fails to pay attention to the order to stop, and fails to stop at the sound of a warning shot, and is ultimately stopped by a bullet – if the shot is fatal or not, the cop ( of any race ) is held in suspicion.

Islamic Terrorism, or Just Western World Hating

When a shooting or bombing is conducted by a member of the Islamic faith, there are calls from some corners to block immigration of members of this faith community from entering the United States, mass deportation, and internment camps similar to those used against Japanese-Americans during the second world war, treating all Muslims as our enemies.

Following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, there was no call to imprison all of the members of the U.S. Army simply because Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had been members of the Army at one point in time.

 In an article published in April 2015, the Pew Research Center indicated that the population of Muslims worldwide was approximately 1.6 billion people or roughly 23% of the world’s population.  This number is expected to grow, for a variety of reasons, to 2.3 billion or so by 2050, making Islam a very close second, or, perhaps overtaking Christianity as the number one belief system. The website  lists the North American population of Muslims at just over 8 million people in 2014.  Not every Muslim is a jihadist intent on killing the balance of mankind, just as not every Italian is a member of the MAFIA.

With 8 million Muslims in North America, and with the population of Canada being approximately 1/10 the size of the US, let us presume that only 90% of the 8 million are in the US, making it 7-ish million people.  If we carry this further and presume that there are only one-hundredth of one percent who wish to totally destroy the infidel population of the US, that is only 700 people. Are we to mash 99.99% of the Muslim population into the jihadist bucket for the relatively few who are bent on the death of America?

Isn’t that rather the inverse of Gn 18:37, where Abraham asks if the city would be spared if only 10 righteous men were found there?  Are we not asking if the entire population should be punished if only a few dozen are, in fact, bent on destruction?

“Some folks hate the Whites
Who hate the Blacks who hate the Klan
Most of us hate anything that
We don’t understand

‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Who they can feel better than at any time they please”

Mt 5:43-48, Love Your Enemies

The passage gives us a direct order, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”  Clearly, we have to be wary of some people and places, for example, if my neighbor white, brown, Christian, Muslim, whatever asks me to buy two AK-47’s and 6,500 rounds of ammunition for him, I may have to deny his request ( in addition to calling the Feds, the police and anyone else who comes to mind ).

We are called to love, we are also called to pray for those who wish us harm, even our enemies.  Keep a watchful eye, avoid things likely to bring harm to yourself and your family, pray the rosary, pray and if all else fails, pray.

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1 thought on “Love Your Enemies and Pray for Them”

  1. ” If we carry this further and presume that there are only one-hundredth of one percent who wish to totally destroy the infidel population of the US, that is only 700 people.”

    But if a majority of the rest are indifferent to the 700 ( which they seem to be ) actively waging war and not adverse to these forces having dominion over whatever territory or peoples they conquer then we have a very big problem. Silence gives consent.

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