Think About It

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Illustration by Frank Kacmarcik, OblSB, Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  

“Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” But how many of us really do that? 

Years ago, I suggested in an Ash Wednesday homily that maybe folks should spend time during Lent praying for strangers, or even people they don’t like. I offhandedly suggested that it might be a good exercise to pray for Osama Bin Laden.  

Hundreds of people gasped.  

Of course. It’s easy to pray for people we like. But praying for those we don’t? Not so much. It seems unthinkable.  

But we need to think about it.  

One of the challenges of following Christ is following his example. We need to remember how he prayed on the cross and how he loved even his executioners. Forgive them, he asked his Father, they don’t know what they are doing. 

How can we even come close to that kind of mercy? How can we see beyond people’s flaws and sins, beyond their cruelties, to feel something approaching love?  

It helps to realize that loving another doesn’t suddenly happen. It grows from compassion, from empathy, from understanding. It takes effort.  

And it takes, very often, prayer. We can’t do it alone.  

Dear God, help me to love my enemies, my persecutors.  

Help me to see them as you do,  

as children, made in your image.  

Make it possible for me to love those I want to hate.  

And be more the child you want me to be.  


© Liturgical Press.

Deacon Greg Kandra

Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. Author of The Busy Person’s Guide to Prayer, he is an award-winning broadcast journalist and maintains The Deacon’s Bench blog

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