Our Lord did not tell us we were to love only those whom we liked, but everyone without distinction.
Unless we are constantly watchful and unless we have faced the truth about ourselves, we are bound to discriminate.
It can easily happen that we pass for very kind people, ever ready to lend a hand or do a good turn, and in our own heart we may think we are. But there will be one or two left out of this benevolent radiance. We shall be courteous to them, for we must not spoil the image we have of ourselves as charitable persons, but we shall be critical, ready to find fault in a discreet way, ready to use them as scapegoats. We shall find it hard to be fair in judgment where they are concerned.
We shall come up with rational explanations of why we think as we do, but if we were really honest we would have to admit that in some way these people cut us down to size. In some way they challenge and threaten us. They may seem to undervalue us, perhaps are critical of us, and this makes us feel insecure. We don't like feeling like this so we must find some way of destroying these people — not literally but in so far as they have power over us. We pull them down in our estimation or keep them severely at a distance. Even the heathen can love those who love them, as our Lord says. His disciples must love their enemies and do them good. Few of us have enemies but we all have those who hurt us in one way or another and we can be refusing our love to these.
Because we are good people we don't do outrageous things, and therefore our consciences are kept untroubled. We fail to see the great importance of these small acts of injustice, or attitudes of rejection which we hold. They are sin and come between us and God. To leave one person out of our love is proof positive — we need no other — that our love for others is not really pure, not the love of Jesus. Our own self will be involved in one way or another. It has always seemed to me that what we experience in our form of community life is exactly the same as we would anywhere else in the world, only more concentrated. We have the same dangers and the same struggles.
Ruth Burrows. "Loving Our Enemies." from To Believe in Jesus (London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Pic., 1987).
Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury Publishing.
Ruth Burrows is the pen name of Sister Rachel, O.C.D., a nun of the Carmelite monastery at Quidenham in Norwich, England. Among her books are Guidelines for Mystical Prayer, Essence of Prayer, and To Believe in Jesus.Copyright © 1987 Bloomsbury Publishing Pic
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