Saturday of 1st Week of Lent--A

What Does It Mean to Love Enemies?

In his book The Heart of the Enlightened, Anthony de Mello, S.J., shared a story of a village drunkard staggered up to the parish priest, newspaper in hand, and greeted him politely. The priest annoyed, ignored the greeting because the man was slightly intoxicated. He had come with a purpose, however. “Excuse me, Father,” he said, “could you tell me what causes arthritis?” the priest ignored that too. But when the man repeated the question, the priest turned on him impatiently and cried, “Drinking causes arthritis, that’s what! Gambling causes arthritis! Chasing loose women causes arthritis …” And only then, too late, he said, “Why did you ask?” “Because it says right here in the papers that that’s what the Pope has!”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples and perhaps to each and every one of us saying, “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, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Why do we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us in order to be the children of God? Does it mean to be the children of God we are asked to allow others to hurt us, to do harm to us, and to pray for them? We are asked to love our enemies and those who persecute us before God’s grace is poured down upon all the good and the bad, the just and the unjust alike. As the Lord Jesus, the Son of God and God himself loves us to the end, suffered and sacrificed on the cross for the sake of our salvation, we are invited to love one another, even to the ones who hate us and persecute us since we are created in his image and like. We are his brothers and sisters.

Are we able to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute or harm us? Jesus never teaches us anything that we cannot do, but do we have courage and strength to do what he asks us to do? We might not have courage and strength enough to do what he asks us to do, but we are given a chance to practice doing it. Lenten Season is a perfect time for us to practice. Have you and I used this Lenten Season to practice to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Let’s us begin with our loved one(s) first, then to our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even strangers. What does Lent mean to you if it’s not to learn to practice what Jesus taught us? The decision is yours.

 

Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen


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