Reflection of a Homily by Gregory the Great

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REFLECTION ON A HOMILY BY GREGORY THE GREAT

     In Gregory’s homily it seems the congregation has trouble understanding the command of our Lord to love as He has. This entails loving even our enemies as Christ has. Yet, how do we love those who harm us? To often we believe that any harm to us demands a distorted form of justice. In other words, to give to them as we got. However, this is not the love of Christ, this is not justice, this is vengeance. So how do we love our enemies as He does? First, we must learn to seriously understand what it is to love those in family and community. If we love them seriously and fully, then we will learn to love our enemies, because loving truly has become a habit within us.
     What is it to love our family and friends seriously? As Gregory states, “cultivate the virtue of love in tranquil times by showing mercy.” We are to extend mercy to them so that mercy maybe shown to our enemies. To extend mercy toward family and friends is to forgive the irritations they create, provide for their needs when they ask for what they want, and above all learn to give without fear and merciless condition. In doing this daily and making it a habit, then we find that our enemies are in the same needs as our friends and we can give to them as well. As we say in the Marine Corps, “The more we sweat in practice, the less we bleed in battle.” This in turn will halt our false sense of duty, which turns our love into servile obligation and therefore never to be given as the Lord has. Charity in its most ordinary form would not be so if performed perfunctorily, it would be a tit for tat and we would all become useless servants only doing what we are supposed to.
     Yet, to prevent a false and fearful love from being given, we must learn what it is to love the Lord. How we love Him is how we would love our family, friends, and enemies. For our love to live after death and to even bring life to others, it must have the life of God within it first. This is Gregory’s thought as he interprets the scripture passage I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bring forth fruit into I have appointed you for grace.

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Only by loving God with an open heart will He make your heart open enough to receive and love an enemy.
     However, we are weak at times. How are we to continue to love an enemy when we are weak and their harm to us seems overpowering and endless? The answer is we are to call upon the Lord Jesus. We are to ask for His grace to infuse and build up ours strong enough to love an enemy. Still, we must be mindful of what it is we are asking in the name of Jesus. When angered and weakened by an enemy are we praying for their good or just praying they stop and go away to bother us no more? Do we pray that our example of love to them is seed enough to grow within them? Do we even pray that if our lives are asked for, that our sacrifice may change their life? These are the good things to pray for for an enemy and us. Loving God knowingly and seriously would keep us mindful of this.


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