How do we love our enemies?


#1

Hi

I have a question - I'm not a Catholic but I'm asking this out of genuine interest, not to be provocative. This is something that has always puzzled me:

Jesus taught that we must love our enemies, forgive those who wrong us and turn the other cheek to those who harm us. But - how can these teachings be followed in real, everyday life? It seems to me that almost no-one truly follows them - from nations down to individuals (including devout Christians). If we did seriously live by these teachings we wouldn't have armies, police forces, courts, judges and prisons. Yet all countries have them and always have. Individuals wouldn't try to defend themselves against crime, and yet they do. Even the Pope has the Swiss Guard to protect him from attack, by force if necessary. And in the past, Popes and Bishops had armies and waged war. The Church even has a doctrine of "Just War".

So my question is - how do we put these teachings of Christ into practice? How are we really supposed to follow these principles in our lives? Does anyone really do this? It seems to me that way in which the entire world works is contrary to what Christ said about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. And I don't see how it can be any other way, without civilisation and order completely breaking down!

I would welcome any comments anyone has, to help me get this clear in my mind.

Thanks for reading....


#2

Loving your enemies is a commandment that Christ has given us as well as loving our neighbors (everyone) and to love GOD with all that we are. This is not easy, but we must strive to do this.

Loving your enemies is a love of charity or “agope”, it is not a jolly or emotional love. I heard a priest give the homily that this love is a verb, not an emotion, but a way of living. To love one’s neighbors and enemies is to give them the respect that is due to all human beings in brotherly love. One forgives one’s enemies in this love, but you don’t necessarily forget what they have done, nor do you become their best friend necessarily.

I am sitting in the hospital now where my grandfather is. My cousin and my aunt did not come to see him for christmas eve, day, or the day after, not even today. I still love them though even despite the far worse things they have done. This does not mean I trust them or am overjoyed when I see them. I respect them, and I love them for Jesus’ sake.


#3

You help others by helping them to meet their true needs. Doing so devoutly is called "love". Doing so devoutly to all of the living is called "agape".

To love an enemy, you do as you would for anyone;

*1) discover their true needs
2) utilize your own situation to help them best handle their needs.
*

That's all there is to it. :D

The confusion isn't whether to do such really. The question is how to accomplish it, how to love. Many less educated can't see the difference between a person and the person's understanding of his situation, so they take the simple route of merely wanting to attack that person rather than realize that the person is actually only trying to live, but has become confused as to how and has ended up taking an adversarial path. the point is to attack the "spirit of the action", not the person.

If you don't help them live better, they just keep doing non-sense things that end up being your problem.

Many fall into a simple minded hatred and just don't care to bother trying to help anyone who isn't a direct and proven friend to live or correct anything they might think, "just be rid of them".


#4

One love’s one’s enemies because one loves God. In other words, for God’s sake.

One loves the good in one’s enemies, or the good that could be in them, not the evil.

In cases like justice, just war, etc. we enact these things because we love God and neighbor and they are necessary for all. If a person commits a crime, and the person is justly punished, it is not against love of neighbor.

Through love of neighbor we desire what is morally good and best for each person, not necessarily that which is neither painful or difficult or punishing for that person. Sometimes a person needs to be punished. Sometimes we can show mercy and relieve that punishment for a better result. Which that is depends on the individual situation.

We should put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes and see if we would want done what will be done, in such a case. If we are moral people, often we desire to pay the price for our crimes or at least see that it is right and just that we do so, and might even be the long term for the best.


#5

\
Jesus taught that we must love our enemies, forgive those who wrong us and turn the other cheek to those who harm us. But - how can these teachings be followed in real, everyday life?\

**By doing exactly what Jesus said: forgiving those who wrong us, turning the other cheek, and doing good to those who abuse us.

Whether other people or nations do it is beside the point. I am to do so. YOU are to do so.

Don’t worry about anyone else. Jesus isn’t going to ask us at the Last Judgement what other people did.**


#6

Thankyou all for these answers.

Can anyone suggest anything more I can read specifically on this subject to further help my understanding?

If anyone has any links to articles on this website or elsewhere (or anything else for that matter), please post them.

I think I’m starting to get it, but I would like to read more on this…


#7

Hi Andrew,

 Just to share from experience, but I think in order to understand better, one must know Christ Jesus better.   One can do this by reading His Word, but also by the eyes and hearts of His saints as they are a reflection of Him.  

 We also can get to know Him by the teachings of the Catholic Faith.    I realize you said you are not Catholic, and you have many questions.   I'm glad you are questioning, because this is important is often the first steps to getting to know Christ better.   

Keep searching and asking.. however make sure you are praying first and foremost. Its not so much a matter of having a book (intellectual) knowledge of Christ and His teachings as it is a personal genuine love for Him. One could read all the books about Him and still not know Him just like you could read all the books about King Louis the umpteenth but not really "know him know him" if you know what I mean. Knowing Him is something that comes from spending time with Christ -one to one. Catholics do this by prayer and also by receiving Him in Holy Communion after we have examined our hearts, confessed our sins and by all of what we know, are in a state of grace.

I digress a bit here... You asked for suggested reading material, so might I suggest a biography about St. Francis of Assisi? Strange as it may sound, it may be helpful! There is a great one by Omer Englebert available at Amazon.com.

May God bless you!


#8

During World War II, there were many battles. When we took prisoners, we in general treated them well. That is one way to love your enemy.

You don't surrender to them or throw bread at them during the battle. But after the battle, you can treat them decently.

There was one story about a battle in France in which American soldiers shot up a house that some German soldiers were using for cover. The Germans were all killed. As the American soldiers were clearing the rooms, they noticed that one of the German soldiers was severely wounded but not yet dead. It was risky, but they took a look at the German soldier and he whispered something and pointed to his pocket. It could have been a booby trap, a grenade, or a sharp blade. The American soldiers checked and in his pocket there was a set of Rosary beads. They put the beads in his hands; he said thanks, in German, and they left to resume/ return to the battle. When they came back later to check on him, he had died.


#9

I love my enemies by wishing no evil upon them and praying for them to change their ways.

I have perhaps the worst neighbor in the world. He has sicked the health dept on us (each time they said there was nothing wrong with our septic system). Had lawyers pursue us for years. The bottom line - I hated him.

After my conversion to the Catholic faith, I forgave him and even pray for him. Do I want to go over to his house for coffee? - No. But if he needed a coat, I would give him one.

John Marie Philomena


#10

Hello Andrew;

When you love and pray for an enemy, it is often more about healing ourself, rather than healing the enemy.

When Jesus spent his time on Earth he would have lived by the two greatest commandments.

Jesus loves the God the Father with all his heart, soul, mind and strength?
Jesus loves each and every one of us as he loves himself?

Each time Jesus suffered an injustice here on Earth, did he forgive them in order that he should continue to love his enemy, as he loved himself?

A powerful story of parents forgiving the people who tortured and killed their child [/FONT]http://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/francis-berthe-climbie

Click on any of the other pictures, for more powerful stories of forgiving enemies.

Blessings

Eric


#11

=Andrew2009;6104383]Hi

I have a question - I’m not a Catholic but I’m asking this out of genuine interest, not to be provocative. This is something that has always puzzled me:

Jesus taught that we must love our enemies, forgive those who wrong us and turn the other cheek to those who harm us. But - how can these teachings be followed in real, everyday life? It seems to me that almost no-one truly follows them - from nations down to individuals (including devout Christians). If we did seriously live by these teachings we wouldn’t have armies, police forces, courts, judges and prisons. Yet all countries have them and always have. Individuals wouldn’t try to defend themselves against crime, and yet they do. Even the Pope has the Swiss Guard to protect him from attack, by force if necessary. And in the past, Popes and Bishops had armies and waged war. The Church even has a doctrine of “Just War”.

So my question is - how do we put these teachings of Christ into practice? How are we really supposed to follow these principles in our lives? Does anyone really do this? It seems to me that way in which the entire world works is contrary to what Christ said about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. And I don’t see how it can be any other way, without civilisation and order completely breaking down!

I would welcome any comments anyone has, to help me get this clear in my mind.

Thanks for reading…

Hi Andrew,

Love is far more than emotion. It ia a conscious decision employing ones mind, intellect and freewill; thus we **can choose to LOVE **without actually liking. Quite an awesome ability.:slight_smile:


#12

That’s what a pastor told me years ago when I asked him how I can love everyone. He said, “Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision.” You can love someone without liking them, or having affection for them.

A book I’ve enjoyed is C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves.


#13

I think St. Maria Goretti's story is a wonderful example of love of enemies, among many of the saints' stories. :)

Saying, 'There but for the grace of God go I,' and forgiving everything are keys that let you become able to be humble and love your enemies.


#14

If you truly love God you must love everybody including people who you hate and also people who hate you. You must see the beauty of God in everything around us including the impure. And to answer your question about the world not really following this rule, The world will always change but one thing in this world that will not change and thats the word of God.


#15

For me, the only way I can show love is to know in my heart that I am loved. Living in the reality that Father loves me like nobody ever has or ever will, has an impact on how I see others.
If left up to me to manufacture something I dont believe for myself, I am living a lie and the worst part is that I start to believe that it is me doing the work not Christ in me.


#16

Andrew,

Here are two books which will give clear examples of loving one’s enemy.

The first would be Kolbe: Saint of the Immacualte. This book is about St. Koble’s life. In it you will find examples of how he loved all types of people, Nazis included.

The second would be The Scarlet and the Black. This book is about Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. After Rome was liberated by the Allies the German commander was captured. He was put in jail for life. During his incarceration only one person ever visited him - Msgr O’Flaherty. The man became a convert to Catholicism because of the priest’s visits. This part comes at the end of the book. The rest is a great read about life in Rome during the war.

Enjoy and God bless


#17

***God decided to LOVE us First by becomming Incarnate man. Then accepting His passion and painful death on the cross, where the first words were: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

WOW!:)***


#18

I didn’t read all the replies, but for me this also has to do with really trying to UNDERSTAND WHY people act the way they act. Somehow I feel that if we knew somebody’s whole life story and circumstances, we could understand how they became who they are.

I often remember this situation:
Somebody stole my wallet, I think somebody I had just talked to. It was a big hassle. But I also started to feel sorry for whoever had stolen it. I tried to understand why… drugs, maybe, addiction? I prayed for him. I lit a candle for him. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed for, but probably something like that he could learn from this and realize it was wrong but also be able to forgive himself… and probably asked God for forgiveness for him… lit a candle.

I somehow could really FEEL FOR the person who had harmed me.

And see, now that i can share this little story, this also shoes that it happened for a purpose. :slight_smile:


#19

p.s. Is it a sin for me to write this down here? Because I feel I did a good thing. maybe I am a bit proud of it. Sorry. :(

But if I didn't write it down how could I use the example to maybe help somebody. :( Moral dilemma!!!


#20

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