You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Connection is one of the leading causes of life. It is part of our very
DNA as human beings. We connect with family, with friends, with the world of ideas, with the environment, and through these connections we find meaning. There are times when we are tempted to go it alone, but, almost invariably, we return to a world of connection.
Within the spiritual world, the word connection has a companion known as forgiveness. We cannot fully connect unless we are able to forgive. It is through forgiveness that enemies become friends, that we learn to connect with those we have judged and even with those with whom we have fought.
Jesus' line from the Sermon on the Mount has an intriguing implication. Notice in his words, "You have heard that it was said 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,'" that neighbor and enemy are both singular. But when he proclaims, "But I say to you 'Love your enemies,'" the word enemy is suddenly plural. It appears that although we'd like to consider ourselves innocent, we may have many enemies.
"Who, me?" we might ask.
Yes, you, he seems to reply.
Taking his words to heart and conducting a quick inventory, we find Jesus' words to be true. Although we may never have considered ourselves to have a single, one enemy, there may be several people we have yet to fully forgive: Perhaps it is the clerk at the store who needs somebody to set him straight. Or that committee member whose absence at the next meeting would be a relief to us all, or the relative whose meddling has started to cause problems at home.
Enemies, it seems, are not only those who try to do us harm, but are also those people whose presence can irritate and annoy.
"I say to you, love your [many] enemies," says Jesus.
"Really?" we might ask.
Yes, really, comes the answer that has the power to change our lives.
Wonderful God, thank you for reminding us to forgive and allowing us to connect with you and all those who will soon become our neighbors. Amen.
Copyright ©2008 Larry Pray.