SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.19-02-2017
Last Sunday Jesus told us not to get angry with our brothers and sisters. Today he is further challenging us by demanding us to love our enemies. An enemy is someone who is hostile to us. Our natural reaction to such people is to demand an eye for an eye, a giving back in kind, hatred for hatred, distrust for distrust, even murder for murder.
Did Jesus love his enemies? Yes, He did. He left us the ultimate example of how we need to respond to our enemies. How was it possible for Him to embrace His enemies with love? He was aware of the fact that he was the beloved or blessed Son of His Heavenly Father. This created a blessed consciousness within him that gave Him the power to be warmed-hearted, loving, and forgiving in the face of hatred and murder. The source from which Jesus drew energy and power to forgive and love His enemies was his Blessed consciousness or His awareness of being the beloved Son Of God. To be a disciple of Jesus means that, at some point, we will be hated. We will make enemies. It happened to Jesus and he assured us that it will happen to us. Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and theologian once said that Jesus’ great act of love is meant to be imitated not just admired. Most of us including me admire Jesus who forgave the perpetrators who crucified him but we are slow to act like Him. However there are many great persons who have followed the spirit of Jesus and embraced their enemies. St. Stephen who is the first martyr of the church forgave his accusers. St. John Paul II visited the prison and forgave Ali Agca who shot him and wounded him. You have heard of the story of Gladis Staines, the widow of Australian missionary Graham Staines. Graham, her husband was burnt alive along with their two sons Philip and Timothy by extremists in Odisha, India in 1999. Gladis pronounced the same forgiving words of Jesus on the culprits. These great Christians were not only with Christ but in Christ and therefore they had the grace to imitate Jesus in the face of great hostility and brutality against them. It is true that Loving enemies is not easy but with God’s grace it is possible. We too have access to that same powerful spring of energy. Like Jesus, we too are God’s children and are loved that deeply. St. Paul once said “it is not I who Live in him but Jesus Christ”. We need to be conscious of the loving presence of Jesus within us. We need to allow the Lord who is inside us to emerge through us especially in hostile moments of our lives to take control of those who oppose us. Let Jesus who is within you forgive your enemies. This In-Christ experience is essential to forgive and love our enemies. Christian Mystics say that before God insert the soul into our bodies, God would first Kiss it. The warmth of that divine embrace is within us always. God has kissed our souls with His love so that we may love not only our friends but specially our enemies. We should leave this world having forgiven our enemies like our Lord Jesus . It is no good to go to the grave with bitter feelings because it can delay our seeing of God face to face. During this Holy Eucharist let us pray for those who are hostile to us with a forgiving heart so that God may forgive them and heal our wounds and their wounds.
God bless you and have a blessed week ahead.
SRI LANKAN CHAPLAIN