Everyone has enemies. Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luther. The Star Wars series has George Lucas. My favorite example though of the relationship between enemies is that of Frodo and Gollum. Throughout the LOTR trilogy, Frodo and Gollum have several meetings, and even travel together for a time. Gollum’s duplicitous motives caused him to attempt and commit harm against Frodo because of his weakness for his “precious”. Frodo experienced the lure of temptation, and was moved with compassion for Gollum. That relationship always stuck out in my mind of how I should think of my own enemies.
Over the years, I have tried to have compassion for my enemies and pray for them, that they would be moved by God’s grace. Through those prayers, I discovered a handful of positive results. Numbered lists seem to be in fashion on T&C this week, so here’s mine.
1. God bestows grace on your enemy – This is the first because it is the most obvious. Everyone who prays for anyone does so for this purpose. God hears our prayers, except maybe those of Catholics for a Free Choice when they pray a rosary for abortion “rights” every year during the March for Life. Praying for our enemies is just like praying for anyone else. We pray for their conversion and that they will be open to God’s grace. Plain and simple.
2. God’s grace to you – Every time you pray for anything, you communicate to God and he bestows grace on you. Also pretty straight forward. Now to the nitty-gritty.
3. Act of humility is good for the soul – It takes a lot of guts to pray for your enemies, to suck it up and do something loving for the very person who would spit in your face if given the chance. The demon of revenge is strong and deceitful and wants to distract us from loving our enemies. This act of humility goes a long way to conquer that demon.
4. You see your enemies as God’s children – When praying for your enemy, you begin to take an interest in their spiritual well-being. You no longer see your enemy as an abstract target of aggression, but as a fragile human being, created in the image and likeness of God who has faults just like you. They are your brothers and sisters and deserve your love and forgiveness, just as God loves and forgives you.
5. Peace – Finally, the combination of God’s grace, forgiveness, and humility culminate in a giant cauldron of peace stew. St. Silouan the Athonite best describes this peace:
The soul cannot know peace unless she prays for her enemies. The soul that has learned of God’s grace to pray, feels love and compassion for every created thing, and in particular for mankind, for whom the Lord suffered on the Cross, and His soul was heavy for every one of us.
Even the most holy person has enemies, people with whom you do not get along. Jesus’ enemies were the people who crucified him, and he prayed for them even until death. Such a beautiful act of love does not come easily, but brings grace to all involved.
Tonight I’m praying for Chief Justice John Roberts.