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Enemies

“Our reading [Acts 13:13-24] teaches us to beware lest we be caught up in this spirit of animosity. We should be careful that our response to those who oppose us would fester into unreasonable hatred. In contrast to this irrational spirit, the Lord said, “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21). And again, “Love your enemy. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Nothing comes of hatred except bitterness and an inner desire for the destruction of one’s enemy. No, we must leave the rejection of the Gospel to the judgment of God.” (Fr. Basil)


“Abraham Lincoln once made a comment about why he sought support from some who were his enemies in his own political party when his advisors felt he should attempt to ‘destroy’ his opponents. Lincoln said something to the effect that if I convert my enemies into my friends have I not destroyed my enemies?” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)


“…we learn of an Armenian nurse who was captured by the Turks along with her brother. Her brother was executed by a Turkish soldier before her eyes. She, however, somehow managed to escape and later became a nurse in a military hospital. One day she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had himself been captured and brought wounded to the hospital where she worked. Something within her cried out, "Avenge your brother." But an even stronger voice called for her to love. She listened to that voice and nursed the man back to health. When the recuperating soldier finally realized who she was, he asked her, "Why didn't you let me die, or better yet, why did you not kill me?" Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, 'Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.' (Luke 6:27)." The young soldier replied, "I never heard such words before. Tell me more, because I want this religion for myself.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)


“And let us not despise the merely human. Merely human matters affect our spiritual life and visa versa. Merely human matters are important. However, the Church is more than merely human. You and I are more than merely human, more than merely biology and psychology, merely conditioning and training, merely stimulus and reaction. You and I in our relationship with Christ can transcend the merely human. We do not have to be determined by what happens to us. If the martyrs of the Church (and Jesus Himself) teach us anything, it is that we do not have to give in to anger and hate and fear. We can even love our enemies.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)


“A clear indicator of whether we are responding faithfully to our calling is how we treat other people, who are living icons of God every bit as much as we are. That is why the Lord taught that we must treat others as we want others to treat us. How we relate to them manifests how we relate to Him. That is true not only for how we relate to our friends, for there is no great virtue in being good to those who are good to us. For example, even the worst criminals help their partners in crime. Likewise, lending money to people likely to repay their loans is simply business as usual, for “even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” Christ calls us to something much higher: “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)


“…the life of the apostle – a word that means “one who is sent forth” – is a life that rises above the instinct of retaliation. Among the regrettable consequences of the Fall in the Garden is our lust for blood: literal and figurative. When we are wronged, is not our instinct to wrong in return? When we are hurt, is not our instinct to hurt back? But, here is this challenging text before us: Is it calling us to a higher standard? Are we to respond to our enemies as Christ responded to His – without slander or hatred or a thirst for revenge? When reviled, He blessed; when persecuted, He endured; when insulted, He forgave. That is radical stuff; difficult, too. But, it may be the only way out of the brutality that increasingly fills our headlines and defines our world…” (Fr. John Oliver)


“I find that most people do not have “enemies” in any classical sense. Rather, we have people with whom we’ve had painful encounters. Bitter words and actions, anger and insults, never seem to disappear on their own. If they go away, it is often because we find ways to emotionally block their remembrance. Reminders often bring a fresh or renewed sense of injury. It is thus rarely our “enemies” that give us difficulties so much as their remembrance. They become “psychic” enemies, collections of bitterness harbored in parts of the brain that, for some reason, seem to be primarily concerned with such things.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Nothing reflects the true state of our souls more than how we put meeting the needs of others before our own. All the more is that the case when those we help are in some sense our enemies.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“The soul sorrows for her enemies and prays for them because they have strayed from the truth and their faces are set towards hell. That is love for our enemies. When Judas bethought him to betray the Lord, the Lord was stirred to pity and showed him what he was doing. Thus must we, too, be gentle with those who err and stray, and we shall be saved by God’s mercy” (Saint Silouan the Athonite)


“The problem with not “loving our enemies” is that it puts distance between us and God whether we realize it or not. Jonah hated the Ninevites because they were his enemy. When God wanted to use him to bring the Ninevites to repentance, Jonah ran from God. God was also working on Jonah’s heart for his well-being. As difficult as it is to have the right thoughts and make the right choices towards those who wrong us, the risk to us if we don’t is great. We can pray, fast, go to church and even think we are right with God while in reality we are far from Him.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“Why does the Lord command us to love our enemies and to pray for them? Not for their sake, but for ours! For as long as we bear grudges, as long as we dwell on how someone offended us, we will have no peace.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“Yes, we never touch the ocean of God’s love as much as when we love our enemies. It is such a joy to accept forgiveness, but it is almost a greater joy to give forgiveness." (Corrie ten Boom)

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be like Him. We should do the same: love our enemies, and forgive those who have hurt us. And if we really do that, it will be the case that, from our side anyway, we won't have enemies. They may still see us as enemies, but we won't see them as enemies. If, as Christ commands, we love and forgive our enemies, they really won't be our enemies anymore. St. Ephraim of Syria wrote about this sixteen hundred years ago: "Do not have any enemies except for Satan himself.” (Father Andrew Harmon)

“As Christians, we affirm the Nicene Creed as our complete statement of faith. Part of the Creed is affirming our belief in both the visible and invisible. The visible person who we see, who hates us or we think hates us, who is attacking us in any way, is really not our enemy, though of course it seems and very much feels emotionally that way. It is really the invisible person behind the visible person who is our true enemy. When we pray for persons like this, we are actually inoculating ourselves against hatred. To make us hateful is the purpose and goal of the true enemy. It’s not easy at all but this is why Christ told us to love and pray for our enemies. We need to trust Him about this.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Opposition to Christ’s message appears very early in the Gospel (Mk 3:2, 6) and continues throughout His ministry. Now, opportunity presents itself to His opponents at last. One of the Lord’s disciples, Judas Iscariot, goes “his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them,” even as they “sought how they might kill Him” (Lk 22:4, 2). “While the Lord is still in Galilee the scribes and Pharisees “begin to assail Him vehemently,” cross-examining Him and “lying in wait for Him and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him” (Luke 11:53-54)…All of these men may be considered His visible enemies but let us consider the true enemy who lurks behind the scenes. As the chief priests are plotting, “Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot” (Luke 22:3). This verse changes our perspective on the war for eternal life and points to the underlying reality. Yes, the spies, captains, scribes, Pharisees, chief priests, and a traitor from Christ’s inner circle merge to form a cadre of opposition. However, they are mere enlistees – pawns of the real enemy, Satan. In fact, the Lord prays for these very men from the Cross, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Dynamis 1/3/2020)


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