It’s a question we have to ask ourselves constantly, because after all is said and done, to be like Christ is the ultimate purpose of our existence, which is not only a matter of our life here on earth but also and most importantly, of our life hereafter.
We should try to find the right answer to that question. And one idea, one truth that can provide us with that right answer is to be able to love our enemies as Christ himself told us, nay, commanded us so. (cfr. Lk 6,27-38) To me, this is the ultimate proof of our being truly like Christ.
We need to prepare ourselves to follow this commandment expressly articulated by Christ. We have to have a strong faith to trust his words, so that we would not consider them as a mere bluff, an empty puffy rhetoric, but rather as what is true, proper and ideal for us.
We have to have a strong faith to trust his words, so that we would readily understand that they are meant for all of us, and not just for some, and that they are necessary and obligatory, and not merely optional, though they have to be taken up freely, and not coercively.
Let’s listen again to what he said: (Lk 6,27-38)
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.”
He continued: “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”
If we are God’s image and likeness, if we are his children through Christ in the Holy Spirit, and therefore meant to adopt his mind, his will and his ways, and ultimately to enter into the very life of God, then we have no other alternative but to make this explicit injunction second nature to us.
Obviously we cannot follow this principle on our own, relying solely on our own powers. We need God himself to enable us to do so. And he has given us that power through his grace which he gives us in abundance through his living word, through his sacraments, through his Church, and in many other mysterious ways unknown to us.
With our enemies, our attitude should be to offer clarification, help and ultimately forgiveness. Christ offered clarification as to what is right and wrong, good and evil. He also offered help by being willing to make sacrifices for them all the way to offering his life on the cross. Ultimately, he offered forgiveness.
Christ wants us to be forgiving always as he himself has been and will always be forgiving to all of us. Even if some offenders of ours have not yet asked forgiveness from us, like Christ just before he died on the cross, we should offer forgiveness to them. We have to remember that we can only be forgiven of our sins if we also forgive others of theirs.*