a death-wish for our enemies
"If only I had died instead of you." —2 Samuel 19:1
Jesus repeatedly commands us to love our enemies. We may think that, if we refrain from killing or hurting our enemies, we are loving them. However, there is much more to loving our enemies. The Lord will give us the grace even to be willing to die in place of our enemies. This is what Jesus did for each one of us, who are His enemies by virtue of our sins. Each one of us is Barabbas (see Mk 15:7ff). We should have died for our sins. However, Jesus died in our place. When the Lord saw us in our sins and rebellion, He made a wish similar to that of David's: "If only I could die instead of you!" So the Lord became a human being and died instead of each of us.
God's love is so awesome and mysterious. Why would He give life to those He knew would torture and crucify Him? Why would He give us the strength to sin and be His enemies? Why would Jesus and we, His disciples, make such a wish as: "O Judas, O Stalin, O Hitler, if only we could die instead of you!"
Receive the astounding miracle of loving your enemies as the Lord does — even to taking their places on the cross.
Prayer: Father, send the Holy Spirit to teach me the meaning of love.
Promise: "Daughter, it is your faith that has cured you. Go in peace and be free of this illness." —Mk 5:34
Praise: St. Ansgar did not let persecution or apparent failure prevent him from spreading the good news.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Divine Love on audio AV 52-3 or video V-52.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Richard Walling, July 18, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 24, 2003