Thus, as an example, Christ teaches us that to hate our neighbor is contrary to the love of God.
This seems obvious enough in the abstract; but what about a man whose life has been ruined by the unjust actions of his neighbor? His heart is filled with righteous anger. He makes plans for revenge. So just does his cause appear to be that he is ready to contemplate the most violent acts.
At this moment it does not seem obvious at all to him that the actions he is contemplating are sins. This is because he is not acting out of the bond of love to Christ, but out of his own wounds. It is then that he should remember that the hate in his heart is sinful — that it is the most basic law of love that anyone whose soul is filled with hate cannot be Christ's friend. If he nurses these emotions instead of struggling against them, then he can only come back to Christ's presence through the gate of repentance. He must not come to the Eucharist with the kiss of Judas.
The more holy a person becomes, the more his life exemplifies love, and the more he will shudder at the thought of anything which destroys his love of God. This follows the pattern of human love in marriage: Couples who have found true happiness in marriage will feel a horror of those things which destroy love, from adultery to petty forms of egoism. Because the knowledge of love is something which progresses with experience, an intelligent person will understand the unlikelihood that all the thoughts of wise men about love will make sense to him right away. Nevertheless, he will extend to a person whose general views have been proven to be correct a certain trusting confidence.
If this is a sensible procedure with respect to a purely human guide, how much more so should this trust be extended to the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor. Who can possibly know more about what is capable of transforming a man in the spirit of love than God?
Ronda Chervin. "Loving Our Enemies." from Church of Love (Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publications, 1973).
Reprinted by permission of the author, Ronda Chervin. Church of Love is out of print.
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat.
Ronda Chervin teaches at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She converted to the Catholic Faith from a Jewish, though atheistic, background and has been a Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Loyola Marymount University, the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the author of some sixty books including Healing of Rejection with the Help of the Lord: A Survivor's Guide, Avoiding Bitterness in Suffering: How Our Heroes in Faith Found Peace Amid Sorrow, Catholic Realism: A Framework for the Refutation of Atheism and the Evangelization of Atheists, What The Saints Said About Heaven: 101 Holy Insights On Everlasting Life, and Holding Hands with God: Catholic Women Share Their Stories of Courage.Copyright © 1973 Ronda Chervin
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