Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Say that again, Lord? You want me to love and pray for whom?
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Can’t I just believe in the fact that you were Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, suffered death, were crucified, died, and were buried, and that you rose from the dead and are seated at the Father’s right hand in glory, judging the living and the dead?
Somehow, assenting in Faith to the creedal dogmas of the Paschal Mystery is worlds easier than loving our enemies in the here and now. One has to do with me and God, me and Eternity, me and my Hopeful, promised Destiny, me and the Alpha and Omega of my life. Or, rather, we and God, we and our Hopeful, promised Destiny, and so on. But, the other part – – the part about loving my enemy: Why is that such a difficult teaching of Jesus to swallow, to live?
Perhaps because the next line in Saint Matthew’s gospel is particularly challenging:
[Your heavenly Father] makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
God showers His love and grace upon the just (generally, even arrogantly speaking, me and you) and the unjust alike (generally, the folks we don’t particularly care for). Each of us responds to that love and grace in different ways, even ungrateful, sinful ways, but it is nonetheless there. Simply because my enemy or, God forbid, even I turn my back on the Lord, He never turns His back on me. Evening comes, and morning follows, and God is still showering His love and grace on the just and the unjust alike.
Let us call to mind, in humility before the One who willed us into existence in love, that we have, through deliberate and un-deliberate actions, turned our back on God and on some human being in a small or big way at some point or another – – possibly even today – – and that just like our so-called “enemies,” we, too, are in need of God’s healing grace and redemption.
And in this realization, in some kind of sympathetic or empathetic way, perhaps we might find a little time today to pray for those who make our skin crawl, who are vacuum of life and energy, who are mean and nasty and seem to not having any redeeming qualities. These enemies, perhaps even more than us, are in need of the grace of receptivity of God’s divine action in their life, even as God works through other human beings to effect His purposes.