Why Loving Our Enemies Is Actually Good For Us

by Catholic Bible Studies And Reflections, Gospels

Gospel of Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
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;

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 6:27-38

This Week’s Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today’s Gospel stands out as one of God’s most challenging teachings. While loving those who love us can be challenging at times, it is easy compared to loving someone that hates us.  It is another level entirely to love those who hate us, but it is what God calls us to. 

It is easy to respond to those who hate us with anger, resentment, and revenge.  The interesting thing is that the more we try to love those that hate us, we will find our instances of anger, resentment, and revenge decreasing.  For example, it is hard to get angry with a bad neighbor if you think of them as a lovable person instead of whatever expletive is now coming to mind.  Loving those who hate us is not only good for them, but it is equally good for us. 

It is also extremely difficult to do this when we are to expect nothing in return.  When we love others due to a great effort on our part, it can be infuriating to not have this love reciprocated, appreciated, or, at the very least, acknowledged.  Again, this is exactly what Christ is calling us to do.  It is easy to love others when we believe that we will be rewarded in some way, noticed for our efforts, or thanked for what we have done.  When none of these things are present, it is easy to become bitter.  However, when we give a gift, do we expect a gift in return?  If we do, then it was not really a gift, it was a transaction. 

Loving others is a gift offered to them without anything expected in return.  Christ’s love for us is a gift that we never could have earned or paid for, and this is the same gift we are called to offer our fellow man.  This week, consider reflecting on love as a gift and how you can give this gift to those who it might be difficult to offer it to.

Questions To Think About This Week

  1. Who is someone I find difficult to love? List three likeable qualties about that person.
  2. How can I show love this week to the person I find hardest to love?
  3. Do I make transactions or give gifts? If needed, prayer for a change of heart!
  4. Who has loved me well in my own life? How can I learn from that example of selfless love?
This reflection originally appeared at www.sacredheartcleveland.com.
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