Loving Our Enemies
In the final episode of George Lucas’s STAR WARS trilogy, the Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker gets re-united with his father not by giving vent to his sense of hatred but by deciding to resist it and to offer love and forgiveness instead. The dark side of the Force is defeated by the young Jedi’s love and bravery, instilled by his masters. The Force is with those who love and forgive. Real bravery is about love and forgiveness. In many epics, including the Hindu Bagavad Gita, bravery belongs to those who forgive, to whose who offer love for hatred and indifference.
Today’s gospel recapitulates Christ’s teaching about love and forgiveness. In our lives, we are subjected to a retaliation mentality that affects us all. >From the sports arena to the criminal justice system, forgiveness is regarded as a weakness. Nothing in the Christian life gospel is more radical and more challenging than the mandate to love our enemies, to do good to those who mistreat us or to lend without any expectation of return. Jesus becomes our model for such unconditional love and mercy in his entire ministry, especially as when he was dying on the cross.
We find it very easy to desire retaliation against those who hurt or hate us. We find this human tendency creeping into our personal lives. We want to get even with others. If our loved ones hurt us even in some little way, we sometimes find ourselves saying to ourselves or at least thinking about getting back at them. God’s mercy challenges us to a much higher standard. And then there is that daunting implication of that part in the Lord’s Prayer when we ask God to forgive us in the same way that we forgive others. God also provides us with powerful witness of his love and mercy, showing us that it is possible to embrace the perpetrators as well as the victims of crimes. The heroic witness of forgiving victims is an inspiration to put into practice the infinite mercy of God in own respective lives.
In daily transactions with others, we have lots of opportunities to practice this Christian imperative. There are those parishioners or priests who are not nice, unfriendly people we encounter in social places, or those uncourteous motorists on the road.
Our Christian life is defined as a journey of love and forgiveness. We are a community of the forgiven and the forgiving. Let us make love and forgiveness not only an occasional act, but a permanent attitude.