Never give up loving
· Meditation ·
Immediately after the proclamation of the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches and asks the poor, proclaimed blessed themselves, to love their enemies, saying “But I say to you that hear, love your enemies”. And in his voice we also hear the voice of God in Sinai: “Hear, O Israel… I am the Lord your God…. The Lord our God is one Lord… and you shall love”. It is from listening to the Lord that the call to follow him is born and is always reborn, as we try ever anew to love both friends and enemies.
Since time and again God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish – this is Jesus’ interpetation of the revelation of God in the Sacred Scriptures and in life – kindness to one’s enemies brings about in human beings their likeness to God.
Kindness means not letting ourselves be blinded by enmity received, continuing to discern even in the enemy the other person for whose life we are responsible.Loving our enemies, persevering in doing good to them despite their bad deeds, is that obedience to God which fulfils completely both our responsiblity for the lives of others the and our responsibility for our own life: not surrendering to resentment, not giving up living in love.
Jesus was also to say: “Do not fear those who kill the body” – hence those who slander you, who beat you, who claim from you your body – because “they cannot kill your soul”; Our human soul in the image of God, the humanity of which we consist is not killed, distorted or misrepresented by the hatred it receives and suffers from others, but only by the hatred it feels itself and puts into practice by responding to evil with evil.
Do not fear enemies, therefore, but rather your own heart, so inclined to let itself be alienated and corrupted by the hatred received, because we are not avenged by hating: this is the narrow way to save the humanity of our soul, the only good which God can help us to preserve.
Love for our enemies is the eloquent fruit of accepting the beatitude which Jesus addresses to us when we are poor, afflicted, and wrongly hated and banished and he himself is the cause of beatitude. In obeying Jesus’ command we understand that the evil received does not repay us at all for the evil we do to avenge ourselves for it. For doing evil always hurts those who do it. Avenging ourselves for it multiplies our suffering for ourselves and for others. Only love given and received can comfort us for the evil received, because only love drives away fear, never the foolish attempt to do evil in return. Jesus never in anything justifies injustice suffered, but he knows that it is possible to remain in communion with others and with God when we are suffering evil unjustly, whereas this is impossible when we are doing evil.
Indeed the command of forgiveness is, like every word of Jesus, the possibility of freedom for those who have suffered evil. Forgiveness interrupts the humiliating obsession in the hearts of victims, first and foremost by their recognition that their life continues to belong to the Lord and not to the person who has done them wrong. It is out of love for our life and for our freedom too that Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, to save our own life as well and not only theirs! Indeed, forgiving our enemies is less painful than avenging ourselves on them.
And to give us the knowledge of love Jesus gives us the golden rule. In order to know how to be kind to our neighbour, whether he or she is a friend or an enemy, Jesus teaches us to look at our own profound desire. And our desire is not to be excluded and rejected, even when we are totally in the wrong. Since he addresses the poor who always suffer injustice at the hands of the rich, Jesus wants to teach them to live the forms of poverty and injustice suffered in the evangelical manner, which is his way of living and dying and which becomes a blessing for themselves and for the world.
Like Jesus who “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return, when he suffered he did not threaten” (cf. 1 Pt 2:23), let us too ask the Lord to forgive our enemies, helping him with this extraordinary word which reveals the full force of Jesus’ intelligence and compassion: “For they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
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