It is hard to love our enemies, but that is exactly what God is asking us to do, said Pope Francis at Mass Tuesday morning. He said we must pray for those who hate us and have done us wrong, ‘that their heart of stone be turned to flesh, that they may feel relief and love’. God lets sun shine and rain fall on the good and the bad, on the just and the unjust and, the Pope added, we must do the same or else we are not being Christian.
Pope Francis began his homily, with a series of questions that encompassed some of the most pressing dramas of humanity. How can we love our enemies? The Pope asked, how can we love those who decide to “bomb and kill so many people?” And again, how can we “love those who out of their for love money prevent the elderly from accessing the necessary medicine and leave them to die”? Or those who only seek “their own best interests, power for themselves and do so much evil?” “It seems hard to love your enemy,” he noted, but Jesus asks it of us. This current liturgy, he said, proposes “Jesus’ updating of the law”, of the law of Mount Sinai with the Law of the Mount of Beatitudes. The Pope also pointed out that we all have enemies, but deep down we too we can become enemies of others:
“We too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy … we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us! We leave this to the cloistered nuns, who are holy, we leave this for some holy soul, but this is not right for everyday life. But it must be right! Jesus says: ‘No, we must do this! Because otherwise you will be like the tax collectors, like pagans. Not Christians. ‘”
So how can we love our enemies? Pope Francis noted that Jesus, “tells us two things”: first look to the Father who “makes the sun rise on evil and good” and “rain fall on the just and unjust”. God “loves everyone.” And then he continued, Jesus tells us to be “perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect”, “imitate the Father with that perfection of love.” He added Jesus “forgive his enemies”, “does everything to forgive them”. He warned that taking revenge is not Christian. The Pope asks But how can we succeed in loving our enemies? By praying. “When we pray for what makes us suffer – the Pope said – it is as if the Lord comes with oil and prepares our hearts for peace”:
“Pray! This is what Jesus advises us:’ Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray! ‘. And say to God: ‘Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love ‘. Let me just ask this question and let each of us answer it in our own heart: ‘Do I pray for my enemies? Do I pray for those who do not love me? ‘If we say’ yes’, I will say, ‘Go on, pray more, you are on the right path! If the answer is’ no ‘, the Lord says:’ Poor thing. You too are an enemy of others! ‘. Pray that the Lord may change the hearts of those. We could say: ‘But this person really wronged me’, or they have done bad things and this impoverishes people, impoverishes humanity. And following this libe of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth“.
Pope Francis reaffirmed, it’s true that love for our enemies “impoverishes us”, because it makes us poor “like Jesus”, who, when he came to us, lowered himself and became poor” for us. The Pope noted that some could argue this was not a good deal “if the enemy makes me poorer” and of course, “according to the criteria of this world, it is not a good deal.” But this, he said, is “the path Jesus travelled” who from rich became poor for us. In this poverty, “in this Jesus’ lowering of himself – he said – there is the grace that has justified us all, made us all rich.” It is the “mystery of salvation”:
“With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others. Just as the poverty of Jesus became the grace of salvation for all of us, great wealth … Let us think today at Mass, let us think of our enemies those who do not wish us well: it would be nice if we offered the Mass for them: Jesus, Jesus’ sacrifice, for them, for those who do not love us. And for us too, so that the Lord teaches us this wisdom which is so hard, but so beautiful, because it makes us look like the Father, like our Father: it brings out the sun for everyone, good and bad. It makes us more like the Son, Jesus, who in his humiliation became poor to enrich us, with his poverty. “