Reading the Word
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righeous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5.43-45)
Reflecting on the Word
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate,violence multiplies violence and toughness multiplies toughness in a dscending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” He is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies–or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged in the dark abyss of annihilation. (Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love)
Responding to the Word
(During World War II, ninety-two thousand women and children died at the death came Ravensbruck. Most of them were Jews. This prayer was found scrawled on a scrap of paper near a dead child.)
Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but also those of ill will. But do not only remember the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering–our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness.