by Rev. Macdonald Akuti, AJ, Associate Pastor at Holy Spirit & St. Mary Magdalen Churches
Dear friends, all our enemies are eliminated by loving them and making them our friends. In our gospel today, God’s great expectation for all of us is to love our enemies. The word ‘love’ is explained by the words that follow: ‘do good,’ ‘bless,’ and ‘pray for those who persecute you.’ This type of love, the highest form, calls us to be benevolent towards others. No matter what that person does to us, we must never allow ourselves to be controlled by his/her evil desires and weaknesses. Our highest good and values remain unchanged or not altered by the malicious schemes of our enemies. We will deliberately and purposely be good and kind to our enemies.
But questions remain: Suppose our enemies abuse our love for them? What if they do not accept it? Are we going to let them do what they want? Let’s get answers to these questions by looking at the attitude and reactions of a poor, old catechist to an enemy.
A young rich man listened to the preaching of the poor, old village catechist during funeral service: “Do not return evil for an evil”, or like in our Gospel today, ‘Do not practice an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’
So the young rich man decided to test and see if this old poor village catechist practiced what he preached. He shouted all kinds of abuses and slanderous words at the old catechist, calling him stupid, lazy, and the most foolish man in the village.
The catechist listened patiently. When the young man ran out of things to say, the old catechist said: “My son, if one declines to accept a gift from the giver, to whom does the gift go?” “Any fools know that,” the young man replied scornfully. “The gift goes back to the giver or the owner.”
“My son,” said the old catechist, “You have verbally attacked and abused me and I decline to accept your gift.” The rich young man stood dumbfounded. The catechist continued, “My son, one who slanders a virtuous person is like one who spits at the sky. The spittle does not soil the sky. It only comes back to soil the face of the one who spits. Or it is like a person who flings dust into the wind. The dust does not reach its target. It only blows back into the face of the person who throws it.”
So my dear friends, don’t worry. If your love is not reciprocated nor accepted, it will come back to you. If the other person speaks slanderous and malicious words and deeds to you, but then you don’t accept them, these will go back to the person who gives them.
Sometimes we are tempted to ask: why should we Christians be told to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who mistreat us, offer the other cheek and give our other cloak, lend money and expect nothing back, not judge, but be compassionate and forgiving? This is too much! This is unfair!
Know that the justice of God is this: violence will be answered by peace, hatred defeated by love, injury healed by forgiveness and evil controlled by goodness.
This is because we are children of God, the Most High who is Himself good to the ungrateful and the wicked (v. 35). “Like Father, like son,” we are created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, we must love our enemies just like God does.