Love your Enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Bible verse – Matthew 5 38-48

1. Introductory prayer

Dear God, how difficult it is to walk the path of love, when it comes to those who are not close to me or I am reflected from them, for those who have a total opposite opinion or values! However, You call me to love my enemies. I can handle it only with You and in You, if I had my way, I would have quit long ago. Father, let me choose your way, which loves all.

2. Reading – Listening: The Gospel according to Matthew 5:38-48 – Love your Enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Bible verse

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel

How should we Christians behave when people do us evil?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus responds: ” That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also…. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you.”

Bread of this Word of God seems to be hard and difficult to digest, for some people even indigestible.

Let us try to enter into Jesus’ thoughts. He invites us to look on every person even on the enemy with a view of the heavenly Father. “For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

God has every person worthy of his talents. Every person as such is worthy of respect. One praises me, another curses me, so I should love the first one and hate the other one? It would be only a human vision, not Divine.

Holy Maximus the Confessor wrote: »Anyone who does not despise fame or shame, wealth or poverty, pleasure or grief, has perfect love. Perfect love does not despises only those things, but even mortal life itself and death.” Despise here means to have inner freedom, at which none of these things (glory or shame, etc.) give any reason to more or less love our neighbor. It means to go beyond what can be seen and felt.

Also in the words of the desert fathers:

One brother came to father Makarius of Egyptian and told him “Father, tell me a word! How can I reach salvation?” The old man taught him: “go to the tombs and mocks the dead.” Brother went there, mocked the graves and threw stones on it. Then he came back and told the old man about it. Who asked him: “Did the dead say anything to you?” He replied, “Nothing.” Then the old man told him: “Go back there tomorrow and show them honor!” Brother went to the tombs, praising the dead and said to them: “The apostles, saints, righteous!” And he came back to the old man and said: “I gave them honor!” And he asked: “Did they answer anything?” Brother replied: “Nothing.” Then the old man said: “You know how much you have coursed them but they did not respond – and how much honor you have shown, and they did not say anything. If you want to achieve salvation, you must also become like a corpse and ignore the iniquity or worship from people. And you will reach salvation! ” Thus say the hermits.

It is not in my power or strength to love someone that has inflicted evil to me. Love for enemies is the fruit of great cohesion and familiarity with God. It is the fruit of prayer.

When I see the evil from my neighbor, I am seeing only his mask. Underneath is an image of God by which man is created. Therefore, the mask is to be removed. This can be done by prayer and reflecting on God’s word. It is necessary to look our neighbor with the eyes of our Heavenly Father. He was not scared of human resistance. The more a man is moving away from the Father, the more the Father loves him. To convince him, He gave him what he had the most precious, his Son. And He has in his life, especially on Calvary, completely fulfilled, which He teaches us today in the Gospel. We have to learn from him.

4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • Through Jesus, God the Son and our brother, we all have a value that we do not need to prove to anyone. Where did I fell, thinking that I had lost my value? And where does Jesus gives me his hand to get up?
  • I give to God my heart’s desire and ask for inner freedom that he does with it whatever he wants. –
  • Love Your Enemies. Looking behind the mask – other people and yourself. How does the Father see me, who loves me?
  • Love Your Enemies. Who can I in the next week try to look in a new way – with the eyes of God, with his love? Just one week. I can pray for that person every day.

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about of this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God)

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence to be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me.

Perhaps from this silence I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship, or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

See all the other Bible readings and meditations

7. Action 

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action)

8. Prayer at the end

Oh, God, it is hard when you call me to love all. I give you my powerlessness. Because you love us – all. And you insist. You set the limit and you invite us not to remain silent, to show what is the other face of the same story, and at the same time you invite us to look with your eyes of love. I ask you, as much as possible to live with your view of love – for me and for all the people.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel at the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. By prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home  – ignacijevdom.si.