During the election season in the United States leading up to November 8, we were divided into camps that sometimes seemed like the good guys against the enemy. Now that the election is over, how do we learn to love our “enemies,” to let it be possible for us to become one people? What does it take to be enabled to love those with whom we disagree so strongly?
When I turned to the passages in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in which Jesus tells us to love our enemies, I got some ideas. In Luke the instruction is given to those “who listen,” which means to hear the words and live them. I find myself needing to acknowledge my feelings, let them go to God, and then to attune myself to God, to let myself become clay in God’s hands. The temptation is to carry a political or secular agenda, but the invitation is to love. It’s hard.
In Luke, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but then adds, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” What I hear in these words is that we are to transcend all the hateful things that others do to us, to rise above all that would diminish us. The religious practices of the Gullah people on the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina emphasized this ability to transcend, and people who encountered them were amazed at their lack of negativity toward white people, who had brought them there in slavery. It’s possible.
In Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we are all children of God—“for God makes God’s sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” I hear a warning here not to think of ourselves or others as the evil ones or the good ones, the superior or inferior. The judging is God’s job. Ours is, as Friend Johan Mauer writes, “to live in hope and work to bless the community, . . . not letting anyone get marginalized.” May it be so.
What are your feelings about the election? How might they become part of your prayer?
How can you attune yourself first to God rather than to the secular world? How are you called to live in love?
Holy Lord, in you is love in its fullness. Letting go of all fear, of all anger, of all pride, we entrust ourselves to the light of your love. Remove every obstacle, Lord, which keeps us from the daunting task you have called all of us to perform: to love each other unconditionally, as you love us. (Jan Brown, Interim Coordinator, Community for Peace and Nonviolence)
For further reference:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (See Matthew 22: 34-40.)
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (See Romans 13: 8-10.)