Striving For Holiness: The Radical Challenge of Loving Your Enemies

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Today, I once again use the Gospel as the basis for my reflection. Specifically, I’m using the first two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 43 and 44.

Jesus’ Challenge

In these verses, Jesus says to his disciples:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Mt 5: 43-44

Jesus statements are significant shift from the instinctual practice of treating our enemies with disdain. To me, the call to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us is not just a suggestion but a path to sainthood.

My Struggle With Loving Our Enemies

When I think of “loving your enemies,” I recall the overwhelming love I felt when witnessing my daughter’s birth. It was a moment filled with profound care and connection.

Now, if I imagine extending a similar level of care to someone I consider my enemy, my immediate response is, “No way!”

It possible to reach a place where we can genuinely care for our enemies?

I think Jesus’ declaration challenges us to elevate our spiritual life to a point where we can love and will the good of those who oppose us. It’s about transcending our natural inclinations and reaching a level of empathy and compassion that mirrors the love we feel for our closest loved ones.

Praying for Our Persecutors

The second part of Jesus’ statement is equally challenging: praying for those who persecute us.

Personally, I realize that my prayers often come from a place of seeking justice or retribution. However, Jesus’s is prompting us to pray for the genuine well-being of our persecutors, wishing them the same grace and peace we seek for ourselves.

How challenging it is for me to change attitude and instead of asking for divine intervention to fix or punish my enemies, I sincerely request for redemption and salvation.

The Path to Holiness

Can I love my enemy? Can I pray for someone I consider my nemesis without constraints or conditions like I for my wife and daughter? This seems to require separating my ego from the situation and seeking a higher understanding of compassion.

I have no doubt it is possible because I’ve heard many stories of Saints who demonstrated this capacity for radical love and forgiveness. Yet, I feel so far away from that stage.

Nevertheless, I can see a version of me that can handle such a challenge, or at least be in connection with God’s grace and peace long enough to separate my ego from the circumstances and genuinely pray for someone’s goodwill.

Embracing the Challenge

As you go through your day, consider…

  • What can I do to get closer to that level of caring for people that I don’t even know?
  • How can you shift your perspective to genuinely wish them well and pray for their happiness and salvation?

What an interesting challenge and a cool standard to strive for. It is something that not many people do on earth. It would definitely make us different.

In peace,


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