February 19, 2023 — 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Of all the things Jesus says which seem totally bat-crazy, this one might take the cake: “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” An enemy is someone who desires the destruction of you, your projects, or those you care about. To love and pray for them is to want their health, strength, and flourishing. But if they thrive, they are more likely to hurt you and others. So, aren’t you indirectly willing your own destruction, or that of your friends? If you doubt that this problem is embedded in this teaching, when was the last time you actually prayed honestly for the people you really hate?
How can we solve this riddle so we might actually live this command? Recall that enemy-love is the surest sign that you love someone with God’s love, and not with indirect egotism. After all, if my love for my enemy ends up hurting me or my loved ones, it can’t be for me. Enemy-love costs more because there are no tit-for-tats. No reciprocity — just loved poured out, and often pain in return. That’s why it is so precious and rare. “What is unusual about that?” asks the Lord about love for our friends. Jesus wants us to experience the unusual love which only comes from him.
When Jesus was being killed on the cross, he was loving his executioners. In fact, he was holding them in being as they nailed him to the cross. He loved those who were spiritually piercing his Mother’s heart, while they were doing it. And when he rose from the dead, he showed us that this kind of love is always worth it. It’s stronger than death. Real love is unusual.
— Father John Muir ©LPi