Friday, May 1, 2009

Love Your Enemies

First Reading: Acts 9:1-20
Psalm: Ps 117:1bc, 2
Gospel: Jn 6:52-59


Today's gospel is very important. It is at the very heart of an age-old disagreement between Catholics and our Protestant brothers. I am not well-versed enough to elaborate on the topic. I highly recommend reflecting on its words, getting a copy of the direct Greek translation if you can, and discussing it with a spiritual adviser.

Sometimes, it is difficult for us to see how treating another in a Christian way helps the cause of Christ. In today's reading, we hear Ananias responding to God's unusual request that he assist the very man who had made it his mission to tear down the Church.
But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name."
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." - Acts 9:13-17

In our own times, there are many people who attack our faith. Some do it openly, cursing the Church and the name of Jesus. Others seek to undermine teachings of the church and attack those who defend those teachings. In response, many Christians lash back, hurling insults and other un-Christian sentiments. They, and we, are often quick to forget that those who disagree with us and seek to attack us are the very ones that Jesus has asked us to pray for:
But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. - Luke 6:27-28
This is the very thing that is emphasized in the reading, and it shows why this command of our Lord is so important. We do not know how God plans to use each of us for His glory. We most certainly do know that He has not given up on them, that He still loves them, just as He loves us. In any case, we are not given permission to stop treating them with love and respect. God alone has the right to judge them and give them the reward that they have earned.
Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good. - Romans 12:19-21

Heavenly Father, we thank You and praise You for the gift of this day. We pray for the gift of patience when dealing with people who seek to harm us, that our example might be an offering to Your glory. Help us to love as You love and leave the rest in Your hands. Jesus, we trust in you! Amen.

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