Saturday of the First Week of Lent (Click here for readings) Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you…
I was a “difficult” young kid.When I first started school, my teachers recognized within two weeks that something was different about me. They sent me off for some testing and eventually realized that I had a really high IQ and a slew of other brain-type-things that made it nearly impossible for me to relate to other kids my age. Naturally, that meant I had to be segregated. I was the youngest member in my school district’s G/T program, and my parents tried their best to enroll me in music classes and book clubs to try to keep me entertained. I really got into piano and the violin, and even picked up Spanish (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Even so, my intellect still controlled my life. I got on the wrong track, as do many kids in my situation. I began to worship my own intellect and view the religion of my parents as a useless product of ignorant people that couldn’t accept science. Within the first five minutes of my first high school theology class, I responded that the creator of the universe was “gravity”. I was an enemy of everything that the Church I have come to love stands for.
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. and pray for those who persecute you.”
People could have written me off as a Christian-basher who would never change. I could have become a lost cause. But that’s just not what Catholics do—that’s just not what Jesus told us to do. To give the cold shoulder to an enemy is to tell God that you don’t think He has the power to change a heart. Basically, it’s like you’re saying, “hey, God, I know you made me really holy, but that person over there is way less holy than me. I don’t think their conversion is possible, so I’m not going to even try to cooperate in it.”
“for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good…” God never gave up on me. One day, our theology teacher wanted us to go to Adoration in our little school chapel. I was not excited. I did not get why people could stare so intently at a piece of bread. But something changed that day, and it was not by my doing.
Let’s just say that I’m an ugly crier and had to swallow my pride before my next class. God killed two birds with one stone.
It’s funny how He turns the tables, too. A couple months ago, He gave me the incredible responsibility of comforting a person (who is not religious) who was struggling with years of serious sin and feeling like they were lost. I can barely order a coffee without making a babbling idiot of myself, so this was a huge task. But sometimes, there are no words—at least no words of your own. God speaks instead. The only thing that I could articulate was that God loved her. God loved her with a passionate, self-sacrificing, all-consuming love that He poured out on the cross. Even if she could not accept His love, that didn’t change the fact that He loved her. He thought of her on the cross as He did every one of us. Even the worst “enemies” of the Church are children created in the image of God. Who are we to treat them as anything less?
Therese of Lisieux (love her) said, “just as the sun shines at the same time on trees and flowers, like each one was the only one on earth, so does our lord care for all souls in a special manner, as if they were each unique.” Wow! God could never forget one of his precious flowers.
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Agh—‘perfect’ is a hard one. One time, I wrote a theology paper and used the Greek translation of ‘perfect’. It literally means “fulfilling all that a thing is capable of/made for.” As many a Spring Break escapade has proven, humans have terrible judgment. The same applies with judgment of character—we simply are not capable of judging. But we are capable of great love. So let’s do that! Love an enemy today by praying for them. Ask God to change their heart and to let them feel His love and mercy. This meditation was written by Katie, a high school student in Dallas, Texas. She is a special contributor to this blog.