#MyMassTakeaway for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Just imagine the world as a place where people were quick to extend mercy and slow to pass judgment. Where forgiveness prevailed over condemnation. Where enemies loved each other.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says,
To you who hear I say,Luke 6:27-30
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
This Gospel is about more than loving our sworn and obvious enemies: political parties, ideological groups, or other “far away” opponents.
It’s also about loving our daily enemy: the one we see face to face.
Relationships are so difficult. Even when we’re all trying to do the right thing, we’re bound to butt heads sometimes. Conflicts of all shapes and sizes are an unavoidable part of fallen human nature.
How can we love our daily enemy?
How can we forgive the friend who betrayed our trust, or be understanding to the relative with seemingly irreconcilable differences? How can we be merciful to the spouse whose carelessness hurts us day in and day out? How can we keep from condemning the child who disrespects us without a second thought?
The answer lies not in this world, but in the next.
Christ died to save us all, even when we were still enemies with him. He gave every ounce of himself to ensure our place in heaven.
But until we get there, we’re not there yet.
Until we’re reunited with him, we remain apart.
That doesn’t diminish Christ’s love for us, but inflames it with a burning desire for the day we will achieve perfect union with him – the day we enter heaven, and see him face to face.
This is exactly how we approach the task of loving our daily enemy.
We know we are all sinful, broken humans. We all make mistakes. We all hurt each other.
And our minds may never (in this life) understand each other’s opinions or motives or actions.
Our daily enemy is not the only offender. We all share the dark side of human nature. And sometimes, this darkness may very well be the cause of lifelong disunity.
But it can’t separate us forever.
In heaven, Christ has won over the darkness, is winning, and will always win.
He will heal all our hurts. He will reconcile all differences. Where once we were at odds with each other, we will celebrate unity in him.
When we look at our daily enemy, we must look past the brokenness of our relationship in this life, and choose to see, through the eyes of hope, the beauty of our relationship in heaven.
When we see the hurt, we rejoice in the coming healing.
When we see arguments, we look forward to the day of understanding.
We forgive all carelessness, thoughtlessness, disrespect, and injury for the sake of our mutual perfection in Christ.
We forgive, even though it doesn’t take away the hurt. And oh, this life can hurt so bad.
But that hurt can help us love.
It can light in our hearts the fire of desire for the good of our enemy. It can allow us to see them as God see them. It can give us a glimpse of who they are, in God’s eyes, in the eternal now.
Our enemy is a beautiful soul, being shaped for heaven through the painful, ugly, glorious, beautiful process of earthly life.
When we allow ourselves to view our enemy as our companion in heaven, we’re inspired to love them with the love Christ calls us to.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.Luke 6:31
We’re called to give others the forgiveness and mercy we ourselves need. We’re called to extend understanding and empathy for the sake of our common fallen human nature.
We’re challenged to pray like crazy for their salvation – as much as we pray for our own – with longing for the day when we will be enemies no longer.
When we wonder why God allows so much discord between us, especially those we most love, just take a moment to consider this:
You may be your enemy’s greatest gift.
You are the person who suffers the effects of their fallen human nature – the hatred, mistreatment, persecution – big or small. You are just the one whose eyes can be opened to the reality of evil, deficit, disharmony, and the need for salvation – not just for the other, but for ourselves, too.
You may be the person God’s calling to bless them with mercy and forgiveness, grace and love. You may be the person God’s calling to pray them into heaven.
You can choose to love your enemy, your daily enemy, the enemy closest to your heart.
Be the one to create the world that Jesus calls us to in today’s Gospel. The world where mercy and forgiveness abound. The world in which judgment and condemnation have no place.
The world in which enemies love each other.
Be your enemy’s greatest blessing. Even if they never return the favor in this life, remember:
Give, and gifts will be given to you;Luke 6:38
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you
Love your enemy now, for heaven’s sake.
#MyMassTakeaway is a community building hashtag. I encourage you to use it to share your thoughts about the Mass, Eucharist, and readings every Sunday.
Check out these reflections, and head over to Instagram to join!
Here’s my takeaway (in shortened form) over on Instagram!
I wanted to excerpt Mary’s whole reflection because it was so powerful. But I’ll give you just her parting thought, and encourage you to read the whole thing.
“We need to offer the same *supernatural* mercy and forgiveness that we crave and have received to those that hurt us and those we love. No, they don’t deserve it. But then again, neither do we.”
Amy zeroes in on Jesus’ opening words in today’s Gospel: “To you who hear.”
“It’s a hard thing to hear this “loving your enemy” command. But God is not asking something of us that He has not done Himself. He always leads the way, but walks beside us all the while.”
Ginny’s reflection on the Psalm and its relationship to our vocation is spot on.
“I guess that’s where the bit about promises comes in handy: He makes them, our job is to trust them. Trust in His goodness, His love, and His mercy, plus the “help” He sends along the way.”
Rebecca has some powerful thoughts to consider as we move towards Lent.
“But today’s readings… remind me that the tomb is part of the life of Christ, part of salvation history. The resurrection will follow.”
This was soooooo good. Turning the other cheek is not the same as allowing yourself to be bullied.
“We don’t have to choose between “hitting” them back or nothing at all. We can be brave enough to love in the face of fear and pain. – Why do people hurt other people? Because they are hurt. They are afraid. And so they lash out. Rather than allowing the cycle of fear to perpetuate, what if we decided to pause and measure out a response full of God’s love?”
The way Amy starts her post – as she sat down for Mass, she wondered what her takeaway would be today – touches my heart with the importance of this devotion.
We don’t do it only for the sharing, or the comments, or the likes. We do it because it helps us pay more attention to Mass. It helps us be open to the ways God wants to feed us.
Here’s what he fed Amy today:
“I’m breathing in “slow.to.anger ” and breathing out “rich.in.kindness.” I think I need to do this every day-many times. Maybe then I will be more aware of my behavior and how it really needs to change.”
Elayne reminds us to look towards others, extending them the mercy they need:
“The visiting priest called us to look outward. To serve others, and not think only of ourselves. To live our earthly life with an eternal perspective.”
I love having Fr. Adam in the loop for My Mass Takeaway because then I can look forward to a bonus homily when we get to read his post!
Today, he asks a question I was thinking about, too:
“To love one’s enemy takes practice, a lifetime of practice, and no one is going to get it perfect, yet we are challenged to try. We must be honest with ourselves, who are our enemies? Only then can we work to love them.”
Nelly reminds us of the importance of keeping Christ close. The words from her son referring to the Crucifix are so precious:
“Mom, this is the most precious gold … the gold of faith, the gold of trust, the gold of love”
Carissa shares a touching story of her grandfather and the power of love.
“Love is what changes men’s hearts, and that love is from the Lord. It’s the love that everyone is craving and searching for in all the wrong places.”
Thank you Nic for sharing the joy of your son’s baptism with us today!
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