Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” - Luke 6:27-28
These words are clearly easier said than done. When it comes right down to it, when someone acts in hate toward you and mistreats you, the last thing you want to do is love them, bless them and pray for them. But Jesus is very clear on the fact that this is what we are called to do.
In the midst of some direct persecution or malice done to us, we can easily be hurt. This hurt can lead us to anger, desires for revenge, and even hatred. If we give in to these temptations, then we suddenly become the very thing that hurt us. Sadly, hating those who have hurt us only makes things worse.
But it would be naive to deny a certain interior tension we all face when we are confronted with harm from another and the command from Jesus to love them in return. If we are honest we must admit to this interior tension. The tension comes as we try to embrace the command of total love despite the hurt and angry feelings we have.
One thing this interior tension reveals is that God wants so much more for us than to simply live a life based on our feelings. Being angry or hurt is not all that enjoyable. In fact, it can be the cause of much misery. But it doesn’t have to be. If we understand this command of Jesus to love our enemies, we will start to understand that this is the path out of the misery. We will start to realize that giving in to hurt feelings and returning anger for anger or hate for hate only makes the wound deeper. On the other hand, if we can love when we are mistreated, we suddenly discover that love in this case is quite powerful. It’s love that goes way beyond any feeling. It’s true love purified and given freely as a gift from God. It’s charity at the highest level and it is a charity that fills us with an abundance of authentic joy.
Reflect, today, upon any wounds you carry within. Know that these wounds can become the source of your own holiness and happiness if you let God transform them and if you allow God to fill your heart with love for everyone who has mistreated you.
Lord, I know that I am called to love my enemies. I know that I am called to love all those who have mistreated me. Help me to surrender to You any feelings of anger or hate and replace those feelings with true charity. Jesus, I trust in You.