II Corinthians 9:6-11
How hard is it to love someone? How hard is it to love someone who does not love you back? Now imagine trying to love someone who is your enemy? How hard would that be? “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,; and your reward will be great…”
Jesus is telling us in this Gospel passage today that we must do just that. He is not suggesting that we love our enemies, no, He simply says, “But love your enemies.” All through the Gospel Jesus is trying to get us to reconcile with those who for one reason or another have wrong us. I have spent many homilies speaking about confession and reconciliation with God but little time on our relationships with others.
Why is it important that we love our enemies? Well for one reason it takes less energy to love than to hate. Hate destroys but love brings life. Hate builds walls but love builds bridges. Hate destroys the soul but love restores it up. But Jesus is asking us to love those who hate us and to expect nothing in return. He does not say to love your enemy only if they love you back. He simply tells us to love them and leaves it at that. Love is a big and complicated word. Thousands upon thousands of books have been written on the subject. But we can make it very simple, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is this love of God that passes all understanding.
So how can we do this, how can we love those who do not love us back? For starters we need to forgive them for the wrong they have committed or for what we have done to them and do not expect anything in return. DO not place a condition on your forgiveness. Forgive them in your heart and let the love of God replace that hate and anger with love. Replace the coldness of hate with the warmth of love. Pray for them. Ask God to send the same warmth upon them to replace their coldness with warmth. Then simply let it go and move on. Continue to pray for them, but do not dwell on it. It is only when we are able to forgive that we then are able to be truly forgiven.
The other day while preparing for this homily I came across a great quote that I would like to end with. I would like each of you to think of this quote and to pray about it this week and see how we can make this our own. St. Seraphim of Sarov was an 18th century saint and monastic. He wrote many letters to his spiritual children on the topic of forgiveness. Listen to his words.
“Acquire the spirit of peace, and a thousand souls will be converted around you.”