Jesus said: “Love your enemy and do good; lend without expecting repayment. Then will your recompense be great. You will rightly be called children of the Most High, since he himself is good to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Lk 6). This may well be the most characteristic of Jesus’ teachings. The world over, people associate forgiving enemies with the name of Jesus.
Jesus changed the view that had prevailed before his time. “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countryman. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Lea 19). The command is very narrow. The word “countryman” indicated only fellow citizens and resident aliens. Others were not included. Jesus’ understanding was quite different. He taught love of enemies.
How it must grieve you, Lord, that Christians are often the first to take offense and revenge, and not only to defend themselves. Enable us, enable me, to hear your word. Make of me a peacemaker.