Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
“No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.” – Francis of Assisi
This Gospel passage, again from the Sermon on the Mount, has some of the hardest sayings of Jesus. We do instinctively want to resist an evil person. It is certainly true that we should actively fight for justice for all. Then how can we love our enemies while doing battle with them for justice? However, there must be something to this advice no matter how much we rebel against it. It is the wisdom of the ages. We find the advice to befriend enemies across the spectrum of religious and secular times. Abraham Lincoln says we destroy enemies by making them friends, and therefore no longer enemies. Nelson Mandela says we make peace with enemies by partnering with them. Buddha says it is our own mind, not our enemies, that sends us on the wrong path. Buddha and St. Francis are on the same track with that idea. When we do not love our enemies we allow them to occupy (preoccupy?) negative space in our minds for which they never paid rent. Why do we allow that? We then often fabricate unfounded conflict and become mentally disjointed, obsessing on the past or future, neglecting the present, the now; and we are not whole. The now has an eternal quality. It is all there is – for now. The Spirit knows all things in a flash – now. Jesus calls us to be whole (holy?) as our heavenly Father is whole (Matthew 5:48) (see Greek below). We cannot be whole without living in the present moment. To use another image from Matthew (5:45) God’s rain falls on the righteous (the right?) and on the unrighteous. Do we think we are so right? Where are we when the rain falls? In the rain there is no “us versus them.” We are all equally wet.
Matthew 5:48 is almost universally translated as “Be perfect . . .” This sounds like a command to be morally without fault which is impossible. However the original Greek word means “whole” or “complete.” God loves everyone and therefore is not fragmented. We are to be perfect, as our heavenly Father, in the sense of being whole, not disjointed. If our mind is thinking “enemy” we are dualistically fragmented.
Enemy my own,
I set you free to befriend,
enemy no more.