Day 31: In the Presence of Enemies

Today’s Mass Readings

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Today’s readings are haunted by a pervasive theme: enemies.

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Watch Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final speech on April 3rd, 1968.

Certainly Martin Luther King, Jr. was no stranger to enemies. When he delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to a sweaty, overcrowded church in Memphis on April 3rd, 1968—he was in a precarious state. In the days leading up to the talk, he had been facing escalating death threats, exhaustion, a civil rights movement fracturing over the role of nonviolence, and flagging support from white moderates.

And yet in the midst of his weakness, King found it within him to deliver one of the most electrifying messages of his short career. Appearing to prophesy his own death, he said, “But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land.”

Those now immortalized words would be among his very last; he was assassinated the next day, on April 4th, 1968.

Watch the above clip of MLK, Jr’s. last public address, and read the full transcript.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Enemies don’t have to be people. They can be any kind of oppositional force in your life that keeps you from flourishing as you were created. Who or what is your enemy? Name it aloud, or write it down.
  2. How do adversaries rob you of life?
  3. The way King lived in the face of opposition models a kind of radical hope. Where have you found hope when you’ve been surrounded by enemies?
  4. What role has hope played in your Lenten journey?
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