38. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. You not only shall not kill

Created: Monday, 09 December 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

38. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
You not only shall not kill


1. Living God, acting in History, gives us a commandment that defends the life of everyone of the human beings: “Do not kill” (Dt 5,17). Human life belongs to God and God protects it. In our times, the second Vatican Council denounces the offences against human life: “homicides of any kind, genocides, abortion, euthanasia and even the deliberate suicide; anything violating the human person integrity, like, for instance, the mutilations, moral or physical tortures, systematic attempts to dominate another’s mind; anything offending human dignity, like infrahuman life conditions, arbitrary detentions, deportations, slavery, prostitution, white females and youngsters commerce; or degrading working conditions” (GS 27)
2. The Gospel assumes the fifth commandment, but it goes further: “You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you: whoever gets angry with his brother will have to face trial.  Whoever insults his brother deserves to be brought before the council; whoever humiliates his brother deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your offering to God.” (Mt 5,21-24).
3. Jesus of Nazareth requests his disciples a justice superior to that of the scribes and Pharisees. This justice essentially consists in the love and that love reaches the enemy: “You have heard that it was said: Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But this I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collector do as much? And if you are friendly with only with your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? (5,43-47)
4. But, is it possible such a love? Is it possible a feeling of love towards the enemies? Who are the enemies? The enemy may be personal, familiar, at the working place, national, political or religious. Because of the Gospel, he can be very near: “Your enemies will be members of your family” (Mt 10,36).
5. In everyday life, it looks normal this way of reacting: Since you did it me, I will do it to you. You will pay for this. But the Gospel overcomes the division between friends and enemies, demolishes the enmity wall (Eph 2,14). In some way, there are no enemies in the disciple’s acting way. At the last term, Jesus defeated the death through his own death. Jesus never destroys, he does not wound, never kills. He heals, regenerates, creates.
6. Love to the enemy is a Christian distinctive sign. Saint Paul says to the Romans: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone. Do not return evil for evil, but try to earn the appreciation of others. Do your best to live in peace with everybody. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves; leave place to the anger.” Id est, leave the judgment to God: “Vengeance is mine, I will give the deserved payment, says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him to drink; by doing this you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not let evil defeat you, but conquer evil with goodness.” (Rom 12, 14-21).
7. The evil looses its power if it finds a patient love. Then, the strike looses itself in the emptiness, violence is nullified, because it does not find opposition. Violence circle is broken. Some real life examples show what is meant: “If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer him the other; if someone sues your in court for your shirt, let him have your coat as well; if someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you.” (Mt 5,39-42) Then, should we forget any precaution or prudence?. Should we become the toys of another’s caprices?. It is not so. It is said not to take reprisals against the enemy. We shall try “to avoid returning evil for evil, but to defeat the evil with the goodness.”
8. Own right defence is not hindered; the advice is to look for an agreement instead of entering in a suit (Mt 5,25). Legitimate defence is not condemned (Peter carries a sword), although Jesus renounces to it (Jn 18,11). Injustice denounce is not impeded; Herod is called “fox” (Lk 13,12). The response for own defence is normal; Jesus questions the one who strikes him: “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (Jn 18, 23). It is intended the justice that shows us like children of the father who is in heaven. Only so we are able to say the prayer of the disciples: “Forgive our trespasses, like we forgive those who trespass against us.”
9. While in many nations death penalty is disappearing, the Catholic Church Catechism admits it, “if it were the only way to efficaciously defend human lives from the unjust aggressor” (n. 2226). Nevertheless, God assumes the protection of man’s life and prohibits the homicide, although it were that of Cain (Gn 4,15). And Jesus of Nazareth, condemned to death by the establishment, does not come to legitimate this established order. He comes to say: “You not only shall not kill, but you shall love your enemy. In the Declaration of Stockholm (11- 12 – 1977) the International Amnesty Conference denounces the death penalty like “definitive punishment, cruel, inhuman and degrading, that violates the right to life”. The day 25 – 4 – 1995 Spain becomes the number 55 country derogating death capital. Like it is known, electric chair continues in action in the United States.
10. That who loves his enemy wants to make him his friend. God has preceded us in this attitude: “When we were enemies, we became at peace with God” (Rom 5,10). The supreme rule is love: “Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offences. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth, Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1Co 13, 4-7).
11. That who loves, has gone from death to life. That who does not love, stays in the death. Says Saint John: “We love our brothers and sisters and with this we know that we have passed from death to life. He who does not love remains in death. He who hates his brother is a murderer, and, as you know, eternal life does not remain in the murderer. This is how we have known what love is: he gave his life for us. We, too, ought to give our life for our brothers.” (1 Jn 3, 14-16). Love to the enemy impossible for men, is possible for God. “Love comes from God” (1 Jn 4, 7). In effect, how could we be merciful like our celestial father, if the Lord does not teach us, if he does not pour his holy spirit over our hearts? (Rom 5,5).
* Dialogue: about love to the enemy.