You can be your enemy’s greatest gift

#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,
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.

Luke 6:27-30

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;
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

Luke 6:38

Love your enemy now, for heaven’s sake.

#MyMassTakeaway Linkup

#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!

tojesussincerely

Here’s my takeaway (in shortened form) over on Instagram!

mary_haseltine

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.”

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"To you who hear I say, 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. Do to others as you would have them do to you. … But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you." + One of the hardest orders from Jesus and certainly not one that’s going to make you popular to bring up. But it’s one that sets us apart as Christians. If something we are about to post online, speak, act, listen to, or engage in does not follow this command: FULL STOP. Don’t do it. Christian love is absolute foolishness and would be considered injustice by the world. It looks weak but it is anything but. Christ asks us to do something superhuman – to love and forgive as HE does. + Think of the time when you have been forgiven something, forgiveness that you did not at all deserve. Think of that sin that you want no one to ever find out about. 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. + + + #Scripture #Christianlove #mercy #SundayScriptureSnapshot #Sundayreadings #Catholic #mymasstakeaway

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catholic_pilgrim79

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.”

ginnykochis

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.”

vrlyfry

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.”

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"Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one." . During Advent I read Reed of God. I was moved by so much of the book, but one part stands out. "He remains, being tempted in all those who are tempted: in those who are in mortal sin, He is in the tomb. We should never come to a sinner without the reverence that we would take to the Holy Sepulchre. Pilgrims have travelled on foot for years to kiss the Holy Sepulchre, which is empty. In sinners we can kneel at the tomb in which the dead Christ lies." . We are all sinners, bearing the marks of original sin. But we are also all bearers of the image of Christ. There is real beauty in seeing Christ in each person, in ourselves, even in our sinfulness. This reality of ministering to Christ in the tomb has been a focus of mine. But today,as we prepare to enter Lent, I was struck by something more. The Church as the body and image bearer of Christ. In many ways the Church is in the tomb right now. . I have felt a lot of anger towards the evil that has pulsed through some of the leadership of the Church. But today's readings and this quote from Reed of God remind me that the tomb is part of the life of Christ, part of salvation history. The resurrection will follow. Now if only it could all happen in 3 days again. . Praying for all the bishops, the pope, and for real action to follow from the summit this past week. . #mymasstakeaway

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findingherlittleway

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?”

View this post on Instagram

My Mass Takeaway: Seventh Sunday Ordinary Time — Today was a hard challenge from Msgr. He opened up with a story about how when he was kid he got beat up by another kid and he just froze. He didn't fight back. He was frozen in fear and did nothing at all. His homily then took a surprising turn and he said "doing nothing out of fear is not what Jesus asks us to do. He asks us to love." I was not expecting that at all! I was expecting him to explain he had turned the other cheek. But he told us how even in his roll as victim he didn't do what we are called to do. Doing nothing is not doing love. And we are called to love, not do nothing at all. – Most of us encounter feeling bullied by another. Even if it's not overtly physical it can still feel like we are being victimized by another's hurtful behavior in many ways. I wonder how many times I've just done nothing at all. Probably a lot. But what is so empowering in Jesus' words to love our enemies, is that we have a choice. We do have the power to choose. We have the grace from God by the power of the Holy Spirit to measure out love as the Lord has measured it out to us. That's pretty powerful stuff! 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? – "For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you". (Luke 6:38) @everysacredsunday . . . . . . . #MyMassTakeaway #mass #meaureinlove #divinemercy #homily #homilyhighlights #catholicchurch #liturgicalliving #prayer #loveisaverb #catholicism #massjournal #massreadings #catholickids #catholiclife #catholicmom #faithoverfear #arkansas #arkansascatholics #biblejournaling

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prayerwinechocolate

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.”

annunciationdesigns

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.”

spiritual.father

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.”

elarbolmenta

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”

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Hoy al llegar a la Iglesia nos encontramos con unas mesas llenas de crucifijos y esculturas talladas en madera. Eran muchas y de todos los tamaños: de la Sagrada Familia, de Jesús. También había Rosarios, pulseras, muchas cosas hermosísimas que nos llamaron la atención a todos y especialmente a mis Pequeños, que todo querían tocar 😂. Después de ver cuidadosamente las artesanías, confirmamos que estaban hechas en Jerusalem. Muy serio, mi hijo me dijo: -“Mamá, este es el oro más precioso… el oro de la fe, el oro de la confianza, el oro del amor”. Se refería a los crucifijos… 😯 ❤ Me dejó sin palabras. Me llevo sus palabras de tarea para esta semana y el Evangelio completito (Lc 6, 27-38). Porque sólo con el “oro”, con la Verdad de Cristo en la mano es posible amar a quienes nos rechazan, a quienes no piensan igual que nosotros o a quienes dañan a los más desprotegidos. Sólo recordando el significado de la Cruz podemos conocer el verdadero significado del Amor y de la Misericordia. ¿Con qué te quedaste tú de la Misa de hoy? Compártenos. …Por cierto, las artesanías son de landofpeace.org y el joven que las vendía nos contó que es originario de Belén y que salieron de allá junto con su familia hace varias años por la situación política y social tan difícil que enfrentan. Sigamos orando por nuestros hermanos refugiados y migrantes 🙏🏻 N. #ElÁrbolMenta #SomosCatólicas #CompartiendoIdeas #MyMassTakeaway #ConquémequedédelaMisa

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praisingjesusinthemess

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.”

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#mymasstakeaway Today I was a little nervous to be back at my home parish. See, I have been bursting out in tears randomly since my Pop died and I hate crying in front of people. I feel like waves of emotions keep washing over me. Both of sadness and of peace. Beautiful memories flood my thoughts, I hear his voice or see his face, and I have those “special I love you’s” that can only be from Heaven. The readings today reminded me of him and the love of Christ. I held back the tears as I heard Luke 6:27-38 read. It’s about loving your enemies, forgiveness, and not judging. I’ve always felt my Pop was like that. He has loved me unconditionally along with my husband and children! He seemed that way with everyone and honestly you could tell that through his viewing and funeral. I knew my grandfather was a big deal and a sweet, kind man, but I had no clue how many people he affected. His viewing started at 5:30, but the funeral home had so many showing up before. The line wrapped around the room and went all the way outside. It was supposed to be over at 7:30, but we were still there until after 9:30 waiting for the last of the people to pay their respects. They had to block off the line at some point. Still, many came the next morning and we ended up starting his Mass late! But it didn’t stop there, as we took my Pop’s body for one last drive around Nazareth, the line of cars stretched for miles and they followed us to the graveside service. Such emotions, such heartache, but such beauty in it all. What a great man, what a great servant for the Lord, and yet he was still humble even in his death. He didn’t even want a Eulogy, but ended up having 3! Such a tiny man with such a big heart and a great love that reached so many! Many people shared that they just don’t make men like Louie! I agreed when they said that, but after today’s readings I’m going to say that’s not true. They do and they will and really it all starts with love. Loving our enemies, offering forgiveness, and really loving even when it hurts. 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. (More below

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nicdonosophotos

Thank you Nic for sharing the joy of your son’s baptism with us today!

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great post

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