Loving Friend and Foe
In the shadow of the Time of Septuagesima, just a few days off, let us review the second part of the Great Commandment to love one another as God has loved us. This entails loving our neighbor which does not mean only the one next door or across the street, but in the sense of all who we come in contact with, treating them always with respect. Here comes into play one of the biggest bugaboos that often are used against those striving to do God's holy Will. Enemies of Christ will accuse Christians of being intolerant if they do as St. Paul entreats us to do in 2 Timothy 4: 2 to "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and doctrine." If we do that we will always express love for our neighbor as well as our enemies, turning their attacks into honey to salve our own hearts and soften theirs. The greatest result is that it will please the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts and that is what is most important in the overall scope of things.
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
Love of Neighbor
All human beings without distinctions of race, nationality, religion, riches, sex, age, or occupation are our "neighbor." Even enemies are our "neighbor", only devils and souls in hell are not.
Christ Himself taught us the love of our neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan, who took care of a stranger that had been robbed and left half dead by the wayside in St. Luke 10: 29. "There is neither Jew nor Greek�For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
We must love our neighbor because God commands it. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (St. Matthew 22:39). The love of our neighbor for the love of God, is strictly enjoined upon us. This is why Holy Scripture speaks of only one commandment of charity.
God looks upon acts of mercy towards others as acts of love towards Himself. "For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in. �Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me" (St. Matthew 25: 35, 40). "If anyone says I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).
Our neighbor is a child of God, made after God's image. God loves him so much that He died to redeem him. God loves our neighbor as He loves us. God is preparing for him a place in Heaven. If we love God, we shall love those whom He loves. "Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why then doth every one of us despise his brother?" (Malachi 2:10).
Our neighbor is our brother. All human beings are descended from Adam and Eve. Our neighbor is our own brother, belonging to the same human family, destined for the same place of eternal happiness, Heaven. Only devils and those in hell are excluded from our love.
We should be more especially united to Christians, because they are, like us, members of Christ's body, the Church. Our Lord said: "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (St. John 15:35).
We should love our neighbor as ourselves, for God's sake. To love our neighbor as ourselves means to have for him the same kind, although not the same degree of love that we have for ourselves. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: "Even as you wish men to do to you, so also do you to them" (St. Luke 6:31).
The best way of knowing how to treat our neighbor is to put ourselves in his place. However, we are not bound to deprive ourselves of what is necessary in order to help our neighbor. In this case, the assistance we extend to him is not of obligation, but of counsel; this is the charity of the saints, the charity of Jesus Christ Himself, Who gave up His life that men may live: "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends" (St. John 15:13).
It is not enough, in order to practice love of neighbor, to feel kind and affectionate towards him; our love must be practical, aimed at doing our neighbor good spiritually as well as materially. "Let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18), and Saint James said, "If a brother or a sister be naked, and in want of daily food, and one of you say to them, 'Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled', yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what shall it profit?" (James 2:15-16).
To love our neighbor for God's sake means to love him in order to please God. This supernatural love is called charity. If we love a person because we expect from him some favor or advantage in return, we love him for our own sake. Our love is interested; it is not real love. Our Lord says: "If you love those who love you, what merit have you? For even sinners love those who love them" (St. Luke 6:32). "But when thou givest alms, do not let thy left hand know what thy right hand is doing, so that thy alms may be given in secret; and thy Father, Who sees in secret, will reward thee" (St. Matthew 6: 3-4).
If we love a person because he is attractive or kind, without any reference to God, we love him only for his own sake, and not for God's. This is natural affection. True love of God makes us love even disagreeable people, without reference to their love for us. It makes us love the poor, the sick, the unfortunate, the suffering, the repulsive, and even our enemies, just because God loves them, and wishes us to love them. Thus Christians of all ages have sacrificed themselves for charity. We do not have to like them, but we do need to love them out of our love for God.
The question often arrises, should we give the same degree of love to all men? No, we may, and should, love some more than others. We should love our parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, and benefactors best. Husbands and wives must be devoted to each other. Parents must sacrifice themselves for their children. We must love our country and countrymen in a special manner, because God gave them to us, but we must never hate of dislike people of other nationalities. This is how so many wars have started not just in our most recent century, but throughout all centuries. Hate foments violence.
Also, we must exercise great care in choosing our companions. We should not be intimate with more than a trusted few. We should be kind to all, but not intimate with all. One rotten apple in a basket will rot all the rest in a short time; so an evil companion easily corrupts his associates.
Those who unfailingly practice the precept of love of neighbor bring down blessings upon earth, and will obtain Heaven as their eternal reward. Our Lord called the precept of charity towards our neighbor a new commandment: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; that as I have loved you, you also love one another" (St. John 13:34).
This is because before Christ's coming, people did not understand the precept of charity in the same sense that our Lord gives it. If today men would closely fulfill that precept, what blessings would ensue! No one would wrong his fellowmen; there would be no need of prisons; there would be no extreme poverty; and peace would reign and Mary's Immaculate Heart would triumph so much sooner.
Love is the fulfilling of the law; and so one who loves his neighbor for the love of God is rewarded with Heaven. One who is good to his fellowmen cannot be a wicked sinner. He who practices charity has other virtues. Love cannot exist alone in the human heart, as the heart cannot exist without other organs.
Love of Our Enemies
Our enemies are those who hate us and seek to do us harm. Before he was converted and became the Apostle St. Paul, he was Saul - an enemy of the Christians; he persecuted them. But he who loves his enemy is like the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, who gave us a striking example of love for enemies. When his enemies were stoning him to death, instead of wishing them ill, he prayed: "Lord, do not lay this sin against them" (Acts 7:60). He was called "a man full of the Holy Spirit."
We must love our enemies because Christ commands it as He states in St. Matthew 5: 44, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you" and "If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you" (St. Mark 11:26).
We must love our enemies for the same reasons and in the same manner we love our neighbor; for enemies as well as friends are our neighbors. Christ has given us the supreme example. Our Heavenly Father Himself gives us the example, for He makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike. From the cross, Our Lord prayed for His enemies: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (St. Luke 23:34).
He who loves his enemy for God's sake is like God: he is like his Father in Heaven (cf. St. Matthew 5:45). He follows the example of Christ, Who prayed and died for His enemies. He is like the saints, who have always loved their enemies, for the love of God. "For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you also should do" (St. John 13:15). "He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life" (St. John 3: 14-15).
We ask God to forgive us. In the Lord's Prayer we say: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Thus we ask God to treat us as we treat our enemies. If we do not forgive them, He will not forgive us. "If you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses" (St. Matthew 6:15). Can anything be clearer than these words of Our Lord?
We show love for our enemies in many ways. We should not take revenge on them. When our Lord was reviled, He did not revile. Vengeance belongs to God, not to us. "Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine: I will repay, says the Lord'" (Romans 12:19).
Once a Samaritan village would not receive Jesus because He was a Jew. The Apostles becoming angry wished to call down fire from Heaven. But Jesus rebuked them, saying: "You do not know of what manner of spirit you are" (St. Luke 9:55) and "And to him that strikes thee on the one cheek, offer the other also" (St. Luke 6:29).
We should return good for evil, avenging ourselves in God's way, by doing good to those that hate us. If we do good to our enemy instead of avenging ourselves, we put him to shame, and pacify him. "If thy enemy is hungry, given him food; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing, thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head" (Romans 12: 20). "We are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we bear with it" (1 Corinthians 4:12).
St. Peter asked Jesus the following, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to thee seven times, but seventy times seven" (St. Matthew 18:21-22). If anyone offends us and comes to ask our pardon, we must receive him kindly, and not be proud or unforgiving. If we offend any one, we should beg his pardon at once. "Do not let the sun go down upon your anger" (Ephesians 4:26). We are never sure of waking up again from sleep, therefore let us always be at peace in conscience by being at peace with all.
When we are seriously injured, as in our property, honor, or reputation, we are not forbidden to claim our just rights before lawful authority. Often justice requires us to do this, in order to prevent greater abuses. Forgiveness of our enemy does not require intimate association. It is enough that we treat him with civility, and help him if he is in need.
Love of enemies is a duty of nations, as well as of individuals. Nations should never go to war, except as a last resort, to protect themselves and their just rights; war must never be from motives of revenge. But cruelty in war is sinful. Soldiers must not treat brutally those who are disabled in battle; they must not attack non-combatants. Looting, raping and burning homes, schools, and churches are never condoned and yet that is what the followers of Islam are doing to Christians in the Mid East, Indonesia and the Philippines. Yet we must not retaliate in kind and a few isolated incidences of this by our own troops and so widely publicized have only left a black mark on Christians, which is the very intention the leftist media intended in denigrating Christianity. Yet we must love them. Again, we sure don't have to like them. In fact, we can despise what they do, hate what they do, if you will, in hating the sin but loving the sinner.
These are some practical ways of loving our enemies: to respect their rights; to avoid uncharitable thoughts and words about them; to show good manners towards them; to do them a good turn whenever possible. We should be most careful not to form a habit of fault-finding or back-biting, however much we are provoked "See that no one renders evil for evil to any man; but always strive after good towards one another and towards all men" (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
We should love our friends loyally, and in the sight of God. True friendship is always based on the love of God. If based on selfish or wrong motives, it is false friendship that results in ruin for those indulging in it. One who hates God can never make a true and good friend. Relations based on pleasure or selfish gain, or some evil purpose, cannot be termed friendship. Such relations, unlike true friendship, disappear or turn bitter with the advent of misfortune.
For a model of true friendship we should take Our Lord's friendship for His apostles, and especially for His favorite apostles, Sts. John, Peter, and James. Other particular friends of Jesus were Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha.
A sign of true friendship is the mutual support each gives to the other, the confidence each reposes in the other, the kindly correction each feels free to give the other. For example, Christ used to correct His dear friends, pointing out to them faults that needed correction for their betterment.
We must, however, be careful in the choice of friends, making sure that those with whom we form friendships will be good for us. It is not advisable to adopt friends rashly or too quickly, on the spur of the moment, because of some temporary attraction or sympathy. How many people have been ruined on account of the company they have kept! We must never have as friends those who would destroy in us the friendship of God, by causing us to sin.
We should look upon our true friends as one of our most precious possessions. As Holy Scripture says: "Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and no weight of gold or silver is able to equal the goodness of his fidelity" (Ecclesiastes. 6:15). "Blessed is he that findeth a true friend" (Ecclesiastes. 25:12). Such a friend adds to our happiness, and helps us in times of difficulties material and spiritual. Often times in marriage, our best friend is our spouse since he or she will know us the best and want the best for us. The same with parents with their children. The offspring should treasure the wisdom and love of their parents, not just in obeying the Fourth Commandment, but also for helping them achieve Heaven.
Previously: Step Twenty-seven: That Virtue called Love
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