Love even your enemies

Twice in today’s Gospel (Luke 6: 27-38) Jesus tells us to “love your enemies.”

In light of the anniversary of the events of September 11 and the killings in Libya, some may say this is unrealistic. But Jesus says this – and St. Paul calls us to “bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12: 14).

This is not easy, especially since we often reduce loving to sentimentality.

But love is not mere sentimentality. Love means, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, willing the good of the other person. We want the other person’s welfare. We seek the others’ conversion to the good.

Blessed John Duns Scotus says that love is wishing the other person to be. Recognizing the other as a person we wish that person be, exist.

Such philosophic definitions are useful in helping us see that God wants life for all, wants us to seek the good of the other, even the enemy – which means, respecting that person’s life.

This does not mean that we overlook the evil actions of other but that we recognize that all of us humans are connected as children of God, with all our faults. At times we must speak the truth, as did today’s saint, John Chrysostom, who did not stop castigating the empress and others for their luxurious life styles and their neglect of the poor. But we must learn to do it with love.

And so today, I ask God to help me love all, to do good to all, even those who oppose me.

It’s not easy. Dorothy Day knew this as she often quoted this line from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov:

Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing, compared to love in dreams.

 

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