Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brother’s Keeper

“Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.” 1 John 2: 9-10

Do you hate anyone?

Have you ever hated anyone? Have you ever been so mad at someone that you said you hated them? I think people have hated one another since the beginning of time. There are many stories in the Bible filled with hatred. History is full of the wars and atrocities that are bred by hatred. And even today, with our “enlightened” minds we still see hatred all over the world. Palestinians and Israelis. Northern Irish and the British. Shiites and Sunnis. Whites and blacks. Muslims and Christians. Democrats and Republicans.

And perhaps even you and I have hated another. Perhaps you and I have been tempted to stop looking at the person and begin to look at their actions, their words, their sins—and hate what we see. But is that how God sees them? It is one thing to hate what someone has done and another to hate them. We are called to hate sin and injustice, but to love even the worst sinner. Even if we are fighting in a war, we should be trying to protect people or stop aggression, but not by hating our enemy.

This is a tall task. How can one not hate someone who has murdered someone they love? How can a soldier not hate the enemy trying to shoot him? How can we not hate the person who always makes fun of us or puts us down? How can we not hate the individual who belittles us or makes our life a living hell? How can we not hate adults who abuse innocent children, or “doctors” that kill innocent babies while still in the womb?

It all comes down to grace and then imitating Christ. We need to recognize that we do not have the power in ourselves to overcome hate, but we must allow the grace of Christ to change us and help us to do the impossible. The reality is that Christ did not hate those who lied about Him, or those who betrayed Him, or those who fell asleep instead of praying with Him. He didn’t hate those who turned away from Him or who wouldn’t listen to His message. He didn’t hate those who tried to trick Him or trap Him. He didn’t hate any sinner that came to Him and He didn’t hate anyone that whipped Him, crowned Him with thorns, made Him carry the cross, stripped Him naked, nailed Him to the cross or watched Him die. He didn’t even hate those who abandoned Him at the end.

If anyone in the universe has a good reason to hate, it would be God. And yet all He does, no matter what we do to Him or each other, is love. And while there are certainly severe consequences for not living according to His commands (including eternal ones), He never hates us, even if we don’t love Him back. As a follower of Christ, called to imitate Him, how can we be any different to one another?

Dear Jesus, there is so much hatred in the world today and it is so tempting to give in to it. Please give me the grace to love others as You do, no matter the circumstances. Amen.

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