Saying “yes” to loving our enemies
But at some point in this process Christians are called, by Jesus, to pray for those who persecute us, to love our enemies--and even to forgive them. This doesn't mean that we in any way condone what they did, or that we don't hope that they receive a just punishment, or that we don't do everything we can to capture criminals and bring them to swift justice. But we are called to do something more by Jesus: pray for them, love them, forgive them. As he said, if we pray only for those who do good to us, "what are you doing more than others"? Yes, it is hard. For me, it's almost impossible. But this is what we are asked to do. When they read this part of the Gospel, some people say that Jesus didn't know what he was talking about. Jesus didn't know our world, people say. Or maybe he was just naive. So, therefore, they say, we can ignore this statement. And so some Christians dismiss this part of the Gospel. But if as a Christian you say this, then you must admit that you are saying, in essence, that the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Incarnate, didn't know what he was talking about. Or that Jesus of Nazareth, who himself lived in an extremely violent time, when life was held cheap, didn't understand violence. Or that Jesus, who was himself the victim of a violent and unjust death, and who nonetheless forgave his executioners from the cross, didn't have the moral stature to ask us to do this hard thing. And if you refuse even to try to love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and forgive those who sin against, then you are also saying that you are taking the first step in walking away from Jesus, just like some of the disciples did all those years ago. And where, I've always wondered, did they end up?
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