Like everyone else, I’ve been encountering too much bitterness, anger and acrimony online lately. The Independence Day fireworks are starting early.
There has to be a better way. There is. And it isn’t easy. Indeed, it may be one of the hardest things a faithful Christian can do. It goes against every instinct we have as fallen children of Adam — but it is the way of the saints.
From the vault, I offer you this tender advice from Pope Francis:
“Too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy… we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us! We leave this to the cloistered nuns, who are holy, we leave this for some holy soul, but this is not right for everyday life. But it must be right! Jesus says: ‘No, we must do this! Because otherwise you will be like the tax collectors, like pagans. Not Christians.’
Pray! This is what Jesus advises us: ‘Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray!’ And say to God: ‘Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love.’ Let me just ask this question and let each of us answer it in our own heart: ‘Do I pray for my enemies? Do I pray for those who do not love me?’ If we say yes, I will say: ‘Go on, pray more, you are on the right path! If the answer is no, the Lord says: ‘Poor thing. You too are an enemy of others!’ Pray that the Lord may change the hearts of those.
We could say: ‘But this person really wronged me’, or they have done bad things and this impoverishes people, impoverishes humanity. And following this line of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others. Just as the poverty of Jesus became the grace of salvation for all of us, great wealth… Let us think today at Mass, let us think of our enemies those who do not wish us well: it would be nice if we offered the Mass for them: Jesus, Jesus’s sacrifice, for them, for those who do not love us. And for us, too, so that the Lord teaches us this wisdom which is so hard, but so beautiful, because it makes us look like the Father, like our Father: it brings out the sun for everyone, good and bad. It makes us more like the Son, Jesus, who in his humiliation became poor to enrich us, with his poverty.”
Then let’s try to live it.