Today we hear the call by Jesus to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This call requires moving past the comfort of our loved ones and into enemy territory. To break down the walls of our defenses we must first recognize we too have been loved. We have been loved by a completely innocent man who offered himself as a sacrifice to ransom the world.
Through this most perfect act Jesus broke down the divisive walls that divide ‘them’ from ‘us.’ Henri Nouwen knew about this love as he described our call to hospitality as “creating a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.” In this free space there is no attempt to bind another into changing but only making the space where change is possible.
It starts by creating the time to listen to another’s story and having the generosity to allow another’s truth to infiltrate our space. Perhaps we may even find that we come to spend time with the stranger, lose our fear of the unknown, and allow friendship to blossom?
—Matthew Lieser, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.