Love your enemies?

207
Deacon Bill Hagen

By Deacon Bill Hagen
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

We once again are hearing from the Sermon on the Mount.

“You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy” is something that Jesus tells us “that has been said” (Mt 5:43). But who said it? God has never commanded it. The commandment, “You shall love your neighbor,” comes from the ancient book of Leviticus, however it does not say to hate one’s enemies.

There is no divine directive instructing us to hate. Hate is a human characteristic passed from generation to generation. Hatred is taught, it is inherited. We have a God of love.

The teaching of Jesus is trying to break the cycle of hatred and violence that seems to exist in the world caused by division and separation. But why is there division and separation in the world when we are all children of God? God provides rain and sun to all of God’s children, not just for those within our select clan or chosen community.

There is no divine directive instructing us to hate. Hate is a human characteristic passed from generation to generation. Hatred is taught, it is inherited. We have a God of love.

Sure there has been division, ever since the Tower of Babel, but perhaps its living in an age of instant communication and a continuous news cycle that differences of opinion and belief seem to attract more attention than unity.

We seem to be divided by clan, language, political party, perceived ethnicity, the right and the left, and sadly, in our religious beliefs. Even the Catholic Church has its liberal and conservative factions sometimes creating a divide between “them” and “us,” and too often it has become very uncivil.

There is only one God but there are many different views, sacred writings, and interpretations of these holy scripts. There was a time, not too long ago, when some Christians felt they could find biblical justification for slavery while some contemporary Islamic sects can find a religious defense for killing those of different beliefs.

But, at their source, the main body of their teachings, all mainstream religions teach love, tolerance and cooperation with their neighbor. Hatred cannot be the basis of any true spiritually guided religion. Jesus is talking about universal love of not only our friends and those in our specific community. Our love of the other, must extend to all communities, of all faiths, and in all locations.