Discussion Thought of the Day:
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 But now, Lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another. 6 For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. 2 John 1:4-6 (NAB)
431 You should always be well-mannered towards everybody, especially towards those who present themselves as your adversaries (you should never have enemies) when you are trying to let them see their mistake. (1)
I started composing this blog this morning, based on the Bible passage above, from my devotional readings. It’s been a thought on my mind for a while, this idea that we cannot separate loving God from being obedient to Him. We can’t say we love Him, and then live a life that rebels against the way He has revealed for us to life.
Then I came across the words of St. Josemaria, this morning, and it is the words that are in parenthesis that stunned me. What does it mean that we shouldn’t have enemies? Is there such a great difference between enemies and adversaries?
Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. He’s saying the same thing – for in loving our enemies, they are not enemies anymore. They may work against, us, frustrate us, even ignore us, but if we love them, if we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, they aren’t our enemies any longer. They are those we are willing to make sacrifices for, that we desire the best (which is knowing God’s love) , that we are willing to die for, to become martyrs, those who death testifies of Jesus Christ, and His love.
Adversaries can be convinced, not by carefully planned arguments, but by those who love them and sacrifice for them. We in turn are changed as we pray for them, as we unite our hearts with God’s heart, as we ask Him to bless them. As we sacrifice our right to be resentful, angry, our plans of revenge and retribution, as we simply pray, and learn to love them.
This is easy to say as I sit in my church office in California, No one is pointing a gun at me, or throwing me in jail. Yet if I look at the lives of the martyr’s throughout history, I am not so sure I have it easier. There was a level of trust, a level of faith, an awareness of the presence of God that was beyond anything I can even imagine. Oddly enough, I find myself desiring it, being a little envious of their stories, of their ability to love their enemies.
This is the way we, who trust in Jesus, are supposed to walk. Loving all, confronting their errors for sure, but loving them in that. We have to realize that our job isn’t to convict them, but to shepherd them into Christ’s love, into His truth. We can do that with adversaries, we cannot with enemies. Of course, they may still see us as enemies, but it is not their perspective that matters. It is ours.
We are called, commissioned, commanded to love them, even as that demonstrates our love and trust in God. Even as it screams that we are walking in Christ’s steps, united to His death, and to the life which we are raised with Him to live. This is how we are God’s masterpiece, as Paul tells the Ephesians, re-created in Christ Jesus to do the good works which He has planned for us, from before time. The good work of loving others, bearing witness in that supernatural love, to the love of Christ.
Lord, have mercy on us, and teach us how to love as You do!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1925-1927). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.