5 January, Thursday — Love Your Enemies

Thursday before Epiphany Sunday

1 Jn 3:11-21
Jn 1:45-51

…to hate your brother is to be a murderer…

All of us would have gone through feelings of hatred for someone. Maybe it is the irritating office colleague, or the unreasonable boss, or the lady who cut the queue, or even several of our relatives. It is already quite a feat for us to display patience and act amicably towards them, but to not hate them can be pretty much a stretch. Some of us console ourselves with the thoughts that ‘they would reap what they have sown,’ or that they will face karma, or that vengeance is God’s, just to get by.

But is this what it really means not to hate? We may be asking the wrong question if this is what is in our minds. God did not command us not to hate. He didn’t even command us not to be indifferent. Instead, he commanded us to love. That seems tough. But what does it mean to ‘love’?

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, love is the ‘choice to will the good of the other.’ If we start from this, it’s finding in our hearts to wish what is best for them. I must admit that I found this difficult at times because there were times what I’d wish for someone to just slip on the floor because she was being irritating. I wasn’t even asked to do a good deed, I was just asked to wish them well.

If we think about it, willing the good of the other is an act that can only be truly known by God and by us. Other people would see the kind act, and we can perform kind acts while truly not willing the good of the other. In this case, it may truly be the more heroic virtue.

So what if we are still struggling to will the good of the other? Maybe we could start small. Perhaps, we can pray for the person to have something to smile about today. Or maybe pray that he’ll feel loved (even for just 30 seconds 😉), or maybe for him to enjoy what he’s eating, or maybe wish for comfortable weather for him/her. I think if we wish for even this small good to come someone’s way, we would truly have loved, even if just a little.

One last thought is that we may have been recipients of our enemies’ good prayers. I’m pretty sure most of us would have offended some fellow Christians who know the verse ‘pray for those who persecute you.’ It would definitely be a prayer coupled with some sacrifice (the sacrifice of wishing good for someone they didn’t love). And we know that prayers coupled with sacrifices are the most effective.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear God, please grant me the grace to will the good for (person’s name). I pray for him/her to (say something good). 

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, that you have commanded my enemies to love me and pray for me.

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