God willing that I make it into heaven I’m suspecting that I will be surprised by a few things and many of them will be pleasant surprises. However one of those surprises that some people may not be too happy about is who they end up seeing in heaven. Think about it we probably have all said at least once in our lives I’m sure that person is not going to make it to heaven. Or we see some horrible crime someone commits or some heinous act we may say to ourselves “He will get his due in hell.” Of course, we don’t know where many end up after they pass away and I fully suspect that I will be surprised at many of the people I run into in Heaven.
The Lord gives us a challenging message today. “love your enemies and do good to them.” I don’t know about you, but when I first heard these words, I said, “Ok Jesus, I know you want me to love my enemies, but the people I have in my life who are my enemies are too hard to love.”
We likely have those people in our own lives who are hard to get along with, who get on our nerves and who may have hurt us in some way. However, we may be surprised when we reach the pearly gates, and we end up finding out that friend I use to have who hurt me has too made it into heaven. That family member who I always argued with about politics is full of Joy and present in Heaven.
We must remember that Jesus died for everyone, not just the people that you and I get along with, or you and I see as good people. Jesus challenging us to love our enemies and to do good to them is not because he is trying to be hard on us, but rather he wants us to become more like him in every way.
We hear our Lord give examples of how we should react and treat others who are especially our enemies. “to the person who strikes your cheek offer the other as well.” It is easy for us to say when someone hurts us, I’m going to get them back. However, Jesus says when someone harms you don’t respond with revenge but respond by offering something more. Someone steals your cloak offer your tunic as well.
How do we do what Jesus is calling us to do? I haven’t seen most people going around offering the other cheek when they get in a fight with someone. I don’t see people going to thieves and saying here have this as well. Instead, I usually see people fight back, say things like “we coming for you, and we are going to find you.”
First, I believe we can begin by asking for God to help us love others in this way. We can’t do this without God’s help we can’t love our enemies, not judge others, and all of these other things without God giving us the grace to do it.
Secondly, we can begin to pray for those who may have hurt us and done wrong to us. It doesn’t have to be much; it may be a short prayer like “God help me to love this person more.” I think as well anyway we can do good to those in our own lives who we get along with or even someone we may not know as well can help us in that matter.
I believe it is important to be merciful ourselves in our lives and to seek forgiveness when we may harm others. I believe all of us have probably hurt someone with our words or actions. If we recognize that we hurt someone, or we may think “what I did to that person wasn’t very kind.” Then first we should ask God to help us to ask for forgiveness. It may not be someone we can see personally but at-least in prayer ask God “forgive me for what I did to that person.” However, it may be someone we need to seek forgiveness. Ask God for the courage to approach them.
As well we need to forgive those who trespass against us as the Our Father prayer says. Again, this may never be able to be done in person, but it can be a powerful experience to in your heart forgive someone for what they did, no matter if they are there to hear it if they accept it or not. We must first begin in our own hearts. Then if the opportunity presents itself and if God wills it then you may be able to move to reconciliation with that person.
The fact that we may run into some people we may not expect in heaven doesn’t mean that we have to be best friends with everyone. However, Jesus calls us to love everyone including our enemies. It can be difficult but with God’s grace we can grow and overcome these struggles. May God give us the grace to love our enemies and do good to those who harm us.