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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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