Christ has given us the most striking example of the love of our enemies, for on the Cross He prayed for His enemies, and in the Garden of Olives He healed the servant whose ear Peter had cut off. Our heavenly Father Himself sets us an example, for He makes His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. He who loves his enemy therefore is like to God; he is a true child of his Father in Heaven (Matt. v. 45).
Another reason why we ought to love our enemy is because he also is made after God\’s image, and is an instrument in His hand.
Our enemy is made after God\’s likeness. The king\’s effigy stamped upon the coin, is equally deserving of respect whether the coin be of copper or gold; so we are bound to love and honor the image of God, whether the man who bears it be vicious or virtuous. It is not the sin we love, but the sinner. Man is God\’s work, sin is man\’s work; \”therefore,\” says St. Augustine, \”love what God has made, not what man has done.\” We ought also to love our enemy because God uses him as His instrument. Evil men, unwittingly to themselves, are instruments in God\’s hands. As the physician employs the leech to draw the bad blood from the veins of the sick man, and effect his cure, so God employs our enemies to remove our imperfections (St. Gregory the Great). The evil shapes the good, as file and hammer shape iron: they are to them as the plough to the fallow ground (St. John Chrysostom). They are, moreover, of service to us, by acquainting us with our faults and giving us an opportunity of practicing virtue. Enemies are like bees; they sting, but they produce honey. [Ibid.] When calumny assails you, console yourself with the thought that it is not the worst fruits that the wasps devour. Finally remember that no enemy can really injure one who loves God; for God makes all hostile designs work good to His Own people (Rom. viii. 28). This is exemplified in Joseph\’s life. The truth will teach you to bear up against persecution.
2. The love of our enemy is shown in this: That we do not revenge ourselves on him, that we return good for evil, that we pray for him and forgive him willingly.
We ought not to revenge ourselves on our enemy. David gives us a beautiful example, for he twice had the opportunity of putting his persecutor King Saul, to death, and on neither occasion did he do him any harm. Our Lord, when He was reviled, did not revile again (1 Pet. ii. 23). Once when Christ was not received in a Samaritan village because He was a Jew, the Apostles were so desirous of revenge that they wanted to call down fire from Heaven. But Our Lord rebuked them, saying: \”You know not of what spirit you are\” (Luke ix. 55). Vengeance belongs to God, not to us (Rom. xii. 19). We ought to suffer wrong rather than take revenge; we are told, to him that striketh thee on the one cheek offer the other (Luke vi. 29). Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good (Rom. xii. 21). Avenge yourself, as the Saints did, by returning benefits for the evil done you; such vengeance is Divine. St. Stephen prayed for his murderers; he was more grieved for the harm they did to themselves than for the injury they did to him. When the Apostle James, Bishop of Jerusalem, was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple, he raised himself on his fractured knees to pray for his murderers. We should also be ready to forgive our enemies. King David forgave Semei, when he threw stones at him and cursed him (2 Kings xvi. 10). To do good to one\’s enemy is a proof of great magnanimity.
3. He who does not revenge himself on his enemy, or who even confers benefits upon him, puts his foe to shame and pacifies him, and will be rewarded by God; whereas he who hates his enemy and revenges himself on him commits a sin.
I am not so good and I believe we should be compensated for being heaped with malignant abuses. However, I cannot control this matter and I try in my stumbling manner to be honorable.