"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 RSVCE
This is the commandment of Jesus, the ONE thing he demands of us... and we all fail miserably at it day after day. We fail sometimes out of frustration. We fail other times because we tend to forget what Love is. As Bishop Robert Barron says often, "Love is willing the good of the other…and then doing something concrete about it. It’s not an emotion, it’s not an attitude. It’s a move of the will. To want the good of the other, and do something about it. That’s love." (From this YouTube video, at the 7:59 mark.)
Love is not an emotion, it's an act of the will, it is doing something, not feeling something. That's how we miss it so often I think. We are hunting for that warm fuzzy feeling toward some annoying person around us, when we should be doing something good for them.
So when Jesus tells us to "love your enemies" he's not telling you to like them, but to desire good for them and to do good for them.
Of course if you find it hard to do good to your foes you can always recall this passage from Proverbs:
"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you." Prov 25:21-22 RSVCE
Or this similar one from Romans,
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Romans 12:19-20 RSVCE
I find it just slightly easier to be good to people who don't deserve it when I remember that this will drive them crazy, it will "heap burning coals upon his head." :-)
Here is a great blog post on the subject from the Sick Pilgrim blog on Patheos: "The Dark Devotional: Christians Drive Me Crazy." I urge you to read the whole thing, if you are at all like me and have just the teeniest tendency toward judging our fellow Christians when they are just so very wrong on so many things... this is a good corrective I think.
" “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
These words were spoken in the upper room. Jesus was not speaking to the masses. He was speaking to those closest to him, the apostles.
We will not be recognized as Christians by our t-shirts or play lists or beards or glass water bottles. We will not be known by our doctrines or our interpretations of Scripture or our positions on infant baptism or our end times theologies. We will be known by our love."
I leave you with this old song to remind us of what love is...
This video was made in honor of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha,
canonized on October 21, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI.