Pope Francis tackled Jesus’ teaching that Christians must love their enemies by asking a series of provocative questions, such as, how can we love those who “bomb and kill so many people?”
As he began his June 18 homily, the Pope illustrated how difficult and wide-ranging Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies can be by posing a series of questions to the congregation.
How can we love those who decide to “bomb and kill so many people?” 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?”
And at the more general level, the Pope asked how Christians can love those who only pursue “their own best interests, power for themselves and do so much evil?”
“It seems hard to love your enemy,” he stated, but Jesus asks it of us.
It is a teaching that 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,” he preached.
The Holy Father’s homily for daily Mass at his residence was based on the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and his charge to his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”
Pope Francis told the congregation that there are two ways that Christians should love their enemies and they are both contained in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
The first way is to look to the Father who “makes the sun rise on evil and good” and “rain fall on the just and unjust.” God “loves everyone.”
The pontiff added, Jesus “forgive his enemies” and “does everything to forgive them.” Taking revenge, on the other hand, is not Christian, he warned.
The second thing that Christians should do to love their enemies is to pray for them. “When we pray for what makes us suffer, it is as if the Lord comes with oil and prepares our hearts for peace,” he remarked.
“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.
Pope Francis then made his homily more personal by posing a question for the congregation to consider.
“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 line of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” the Pope preached.
He also pointed out that loving one’s enemies “impoverishes us,” because it makes us poor “like Jesus,” who, when he came to us, “lowered himself and became poor” for us.
And yet, Jesus’ impoverishment was not a “bad deal” but brought about the salvation of the world, pouring out “the grace that has justified us all, made us all rich,” he said.
Pope Francis closed his homily by urging those present to pray for their 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."