February 9 – Love Your Enemies

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 9 – Love Your Enemies

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-31).

Before I begin, let me state categorically that this passage does not imply anyone should take abuse from another in the name of love, especially if that abuse is continual or comes from one who has emotional and mental issues which preclude them ever making a return to a healthy relationship.  This passage is all about building and re-building relationships that have been damaged and have the potential (sometimes albeit that potential may be hard to discern) for renewal.

In verse twenty-eight, Jesus tells us that rather than retaliate, we are to respond in love.  We are to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us.  For most Jews who followed the Torah, the idea was always one of retaliation, of making things right.  An eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth was the proper prescription.  Jesus tells us that is never helpful.  We don’t repay in kind, that only escalates the problem.

When we were growing up as children, the phrase “but he (or she) started it!” came out of our mouths often.  Mom would always ask who was going to end it (the fight, the destruction, whatever we’d gotten ourselves into).  It was always a good question and generally we discovered that the response was that she was going to end it.

The time came when Dad stepped into the middle of a fight.  He wasn't quite so tolerant since he wasn't in the house all the time.  Both my sister and brother remember the first time his method of ending a fight occurred.  They were ordered (and no one disobeyed Dad) to sit beside each other on the steps leading upstairs.  They could not move from that place until they’d apologized and hugged each other.  Dad knew several things.  First of all, neither could sit still very long and in order to be up and playing again, they needed to end the argument.  Secondly, our family operated from a basis in love.  We might be angry at each other, but the foundation was one of love and he and Mom had always ensured we were in a safe, loving home.  It was that love to which we always returned.  Before too much time past, apologies and hugs had been exchanged and everyone was off playing with each other again.

Now, this mode of ‘punishment’ soon became the norm in our household.  Mom loved it and used it as often as possible. As kids, we weren't terribly fond of it, but we all had to admit, fights, retaliation and retribution were nearly impossible after that.

Love, bless and pray for those who are not your friends.