27 February 2010

Lenten Challenge

Today's Gospel calls us to a uniquely Christian challenge: to love our enemies. It is easy for us to take a cursory check of our acquaintance list and declare ourselves enemy-free. Most of us associate "enemy" with a hostile situation or a person with whom we are "at war." This is neither uncommon nor incorrect; it's just a bit too narrow. If we were to revisit today's Gospel and to consider prayerfully that anyone who disturbs our peace is an 'enemy' we might find that we have a Lenten challenge.

It's easy to dismiss the concept of 'enemy' as someone far away who, in theory, we have to love, but in reality someone with whom we may never have to associate. When we consider the many ways in which we may be irritated by the actions or word of another our list of enemies, in this sense, can grow quickly. Let us not be discouraged when we realize this, let us rejoice that we have an opportunity -- and one not to be missed -- to grow into and to live out this great commandment of the Lord!

"In meditating on Our Dear Lord’s first word from the Cross, you will no doubt be roused to the desire of imitating Him in forgiving and loving your enemies. But that is not enough, unless you bring it to some practical resolution, such as, 'I will not be angered any more by the annoying things said of me by such or such a neighbor, nor by the slights offered me by such an one; but rather I will do such and such things in order to soften and conciliate them.' In this way, my daughter, you will soon correct your faults, whereas mere general resolutions would take but a slow and uncertain effect."
St. Francis de Sales

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