Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Enemies. We like to think we don’t have them – in our nice towns, our nice communities, our nice parishes, surely there are no enemies. Yet Jesus said: “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Mt. 10:36) The psalms are full of concern about dealing with one’s enemies. It is as easy as trying to recall what the playground was like back in grammar school – or the bitter rivalries of high school – to begin to sober up on the question. And then there’s the next door neighbor, and the question of the fence and the tree and the cat….

Having enemies is a sad reality of the human condition, and it extends beyond the human into the spiritual, for the devil is certainly the enemy of Christian souls. Indeed, our tradition teaches that the soul on its way to God has three particular enemies: “the world, the flesh and the devil.”

In our world today, we see a large religious force intent on obliterating people it considers enemies. This did not begin yesterday, and there were times when our own tradition veered from Jesus’ teachings enough to also attempt to obliterate human enemies. We must acknowledge the realities of the human condition, and the realities of the human heart: and then we must surrender all and beg for the grace to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We cannot do this on our own: we desperately need the grace of Jesus. And since He has commanded it, He will surely give us the grace, if we keep asking, insistently. We will never lack for enemies for long: may we never lack the humble grace to admit our inability to love them on our own, and to beg for Jesus’ help in following His example.

February 28th, 2015