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Thursday, September 9, 2004

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St. Peter Claver (USA)

1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13
Psalm 139
Luke 6:27-38

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how to love your enemies lavishly

"Love your enemies." —Luke 6:27

Jesus commanded His followers: "To you who hear Me, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Lk 6:27). A few verses later, Jesus repeated: "Love your enemy and do good" (Lk 6:35). This may be the use of the literary device called an inclusion. Ancient texts had no paragraphs. An inclusion is one way the author could indicate when the treatment of a subject begins and ends. The use of an inclusion greatly affects the interpretation of these verses.

Jesus may be commanding us to show our love to our enemies more than we show it to our friends. We may be called to lavishly love our enemies who have not repented but are presently hurting us. They continue to hate (Lk 6:27), curse, maltreat (Lk 6:28), and slap us (Lk 6:29). They may be even presently stealing from us (Lk 6:29). We as followers of Jesus are at the same time to love them by doing them good (Lk 6:27), blessing and praying for them (Lk 6:28), and even make it easier for them to hurt us and steal from us (Lk 6:29). We are to give to all these enemies (Lk 6:30) and even give them loans without expecting repayment (Lk 6:34).

This interpretation of these verses would seem absurd but for Paul's admonition: " 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; by doing this you will heap burning coals upon his head.' Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good" (Rm 12:20-21). Ultimately, this interpretation seems confirmed by Jesus' death on the cross. When Jesus was crucified, He poured out infinite love and mercy on His enemies — many of whom would never repent.

By His grace, love your enemies as Jesus does.

Prayer:  Father, may I live the radical way which my new life in Baptism makes possible.

Promise:  "The measure you measure with will be measured back to you." —Lk 6:38

Praise:  St. Peter Claver heard as many as 5,000 confessions a year.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Richard L. Klug, January 16, 2004

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 26, 2004