BY MICHAEL IAFRATE | March 11, 2017
Today’s Readings

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

For a text that provides a clear basis for Christian nonviolence, this reading sure has hit me in the face repeatedly lately.

Scott McCloskey/Wheeling News-Register

Jesus’ call to “love your enemies” was proclaimed during the cycle of Sunday readings not long ago. Earlier that same week, it was a topic in my daughter’s sacramental preparation lessons. Among Christians committed to social justice, “love your enemies” is a popular saying, for we know it is central to the way of discipleship.

But perhaps it has become a little too easy to rattle off.

In times like these, it is difficult to keep up with the emerging political landscape, with policy shifts and executive orders that appear almost daily as enemies in our shared work for justice for all people, and for the care of the Earth. If you’re like me, you might become easily overwhelmed by the news itself, let alone the call to respond to these events with the “love” of Jesus.

Jesus’ command to his disciples was hardly abstract. Jesus clearly assumed that his followers had and would indeed make particular enemies—for example, those imperial forces, including their allies among the religious leaders, who wanted to silence Jesus and his movement. But he also had in mind groups of people who his followers tended to oppress, exclude, or look down upon—women, outsiders, the sick, various “sinners.”

Pursuing the gospel of peace and justice necessarily means that we will make enemies just as Jesus did. It also means opening our ears and our hearts those who consider us to be enemies because of the way our lifestyles and attitudes exclude or oppress them. In each case, the command to love is clear, even if the way to do so is not.

After the recent executive orders on refugees, when talking to my daughter about Jesus teaching us to “love our enemies,” she asked me, “Like Donald Trump, Daddy?” She’s on her way to understanding Jesus’ tough teachings.

Am I? Are we?

Let us hearken to God’s voice this Lent, that we might be a people sacred to the Lord, perfect as the parental love of God is perfect.

4 replies
  1. Avatar
    Angela Brown says:

    I had one of the moments after reading my morning devotion when I thought God could not really want me to love Donald Trump given what he has done and threatens to do to people because of their race, gender, sexual identity and religious beliefs. Executive orders and legislation that will cause pain to so many, truly Lord not him. My response from the Lord was swift and clear, yes even him, in fact especially him.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Mary Anderson says:

    “Love thy neighbor” and “love thy enemy” are of equal importance–inside my head. But loving my enemies has proved to be one of my greatest struggles. As an organizer, and executive board member of my local workplace union, I have enemies. The virulent hatred towards me from anti-union employees has taken me by surprise, and I have struggled to forgive, and love, these people. I pray each day for the power to change my own heart, to lead by loving example.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Anna says:

    Loving your enemy or person you don’t like is one of the hardest things but as it is said “Love can make mountains move”, so maybe it is the right thing to do.

    Reply

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