Mahatma Gandhi once famously reflected that living by the old code of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” would leave the whole world blind and toothless! Jesus sets the bar so much higher in commanding us to love even our enemies. There is no passage in the bible more challenging to our instinctual way of reacting to threats than this text. So inspirational are these words that they became the underpinnings for Gandhi’s non-violent protests and the civil rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What a different America this would be if we took Jesus’ words to heart and started praying for those intent on doing us harm. Who are the enemies of our country and our Church that frighten us? Answer that question, and we have the solid beginnings for our prayer list.
—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at heartoheart.org.