Love Your Enemies

Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from:

We heard probably THE most challenging command from Jesus to us in our gospel today.  “Love your enemies.” Fr. James Martin tells this story about another priest, who during his homily, said this to his congregation:

"I’ll bet that many of us feel as if we have enemies in our lives."

  • "So, raise your hands if you have many enemies.” And quite a few people raise their hands.
  • “Now raise your hands if you have only a few enemies.” And about half as many people raise their hands.
  • “Now raise your hands if you have only one or two enemies.” And even fewer people raised their hands.
  • “Now raise your hands if you have no enemies at all.” And the priest looks around, and way in the back, a very, very old man raises his hand, stands up and says, “I have no enemies whatsoever!”

Delighted, the priest invites the man to the front and says: “What a blessing! How old are you?”  “I’m 98 years old, and I have no enemies” to which the priest said, “What a wonderful Christian life you lead! Tell us all how it is that you have no enemies.”  And the man replied: “All the scoundrels have died!”

Maybe we don’t think we have enemies.  We try to be good people, do good things, love everyone.  But, honestly, think about whether there are other people we should love more than we do, people we take for granted, or look down upon even unintentionally, or dismiss.  Are we even aware or conscious that we do these things?

Once we really become aware of this in ourselves, we can change our ways.  This is what’s coming to light in our society now and it hasn’t been easy.  As believers, it is our behavior toward the unnoticed, the oppressed, and those who may not look or think like we do that sets us apart.

This may be a challenging and uncomfortable way to live, but it is the way Jesus lived and died for all and he continues to invite us to follow.  Christ demands that His followers operate under a different way of thinking with different values and a different lifestyle. We are to do the seemingly impossible, which is, love our enemies, and even pray for them.