Lenten Reflections

Reflections on Matthew 5:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

“The text said, to pray for your enemies. To me this could be seen as praying for students at school that aren’t very kind to others. Because you never know what could be going on in their lives. Maybe they are taking their anger out on others because of things going on at home. It’s hard for people who don’t know kindness to give it back.” (Evan Wilkinson)

When I read Matthew 5:43-45 I think of all the people who have in some way or another done something that I have deemed as hurtful to me.  And I think to myself how angry they have made me and how I feel I should hate them.  Then I think that hate is a very strong word.  I start to think about the power of the word hate.  I realize that I don’t want to hate anything or anyone.  Hate takes control of the situation.  It leads me to places I don’t want to go and makes me someone I don’t want to be.  As I consider this, I start to consider the fact that maybe the thing that I have deemed as hurtful was not intended that way.  If I put my feelings out of the situation and just take the words that may have been said just as words without any underlying emotion, would I feel the same way.  Is it me who put the feeling behind what was said or done. Then I pray for forgiveness.  I pray that I might be able to forgive the person for what they have done to me, whether it was intended or not.  I pray that others might forgive me for things that I may have unintentionally said or done to them.  When I do this I feel at peace with myself.  I cannot control other people.  I can only control myself.  But my reactions to things can make different reactions for those around me.  I have the choice of who I want to be and how I want to be.  I choose not to hate. (Helen Harrison)