Saturday, 1st Week of Lent
Included in the list of enemies we should love and pray for are the following: those who have deprived us of their concern and care – the significant people in our life who should have loved us. those who have hurt us (and continue to hurt us) – physically, emotionally, psychologically… those who have damaged our good name and reputation – with lies, false accusations, gossips… those who have swindled us, who have cheated on us, who have been unfaithful to us who have betrayed our trust… Just thinking of our enemies – their names and faces – is enough to arouse the desire for revenge and retaliation in us. It is at this precise moment that we are invited by the Lord Jesus: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
We need to point out again that love is willing the good of the other. Included in this ‘other’ is our enemy. Bishop Robert Barron, in his reflection on today’s gospel passage, says, “If love is willing the good of the other, it means that love is not interested in the response of the one who is loved.” True love does not ask for reciprocation. True love does not demand a positive response from someone who is loved. True love is not being good just to someone who is good to us; it is not doing good just to someone who does good to us. For the one who truly loves, the only thing that matters is the good of the other.
Elaborating on this point, Bishop Robert Barron comments, “If love really means wanting the good of the other, it will seek to convert the aggressive person.” An essential part of loving our enemies is to bring or lure them into a better spiritual space. We have to be genuinely concerned for them by helping them to see the bad things they do. We have to help them to renounce their wickedness, reform their lives, and be better persons. This is what converting or luring the enemy into a better spiritual space means.
The test for us is this: Would you love those who would not love you? The first thing we are called to do when we think of our enemies is to pray for them. Let us remember this: By loving our enemies, and praying for them, we eliminate them, because we turn them into our friends. Thus we unload ourselves of unnecessary burdens of keeping enemies.