Selection of the sermons of Father Ezekiel Oko

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Sermon for 7th Sunday of the annual cycle in the reading year: B

But I say to you: Love your enemies

Dear sisters and brothers, the main message of today's readings is that we belong to God and are therefore holy. Holiness (hagios in Greek) actually means "to be set apart from God" or "to be dedicated to God." That which is set apart or dedicated to God belongs to God. This expresses our identity as children of God. This identity not only grants us privileges, it also imposes certain requirements on us. Sometimes these requirements even seem too high. An example of this is, among others, “Love of enemies”.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. …” says the gospel. (Mt 5, 43-45) For many people, loving enemies is not only unrealistic and impossible, but also friendly to offenders. How can you love your enemies? Isn't that stupid?

Loving enemies is certainly not easy to understand. But hidden within is a wisdom that not only liberates, but also affirms. Let's see together where the wisdom lies. Let's start with the question: "What does loving my enemy mean to me?" "What do I mean by that?" My personal answer to this is: don't respond to enmity with enmity. This can also mean renunciation of hate, violence and revenge against enmity. Loving enemies has great value in forgiveness that comes from love.

I once read a book called The Power of Forgiveness. It is an autobiography of a woman, Eva Mozes Kor. In his story I find a perspective of loving one's enemies that I want to share with you.

Eva Mozes Kor would have every reason to hate because her family was wiped out in Auschwitz by the Nazis. She and her twin sister Miriam survived the situation despite many cruel medical attempts on them. But Eva Mozes says:

“I forgave the Nazis! ... I forgave all Nazis, not because they deserved it, but because I deserved it. I found that when I forgive them, the burden of pain is lifted off my shoulders and I also regain my independence, freedom and power. By that I mean that I have power over my own life. And I found that I had this single power: to forgive.” She said forgiveness grants the power that relieves and heals.

Eva Mozes Kor didn't want to be victimized a second time, you could say. It's enough what the Nazis did to her and her sisters. Through forgiveness she has managed to take the daily burden of pain and anger off her shoulders. She didn't want it to destroy her life and take away her identity. And that would have happened if she had lived her life in pain, hate and anger. Yes, that's how it is: hate and anger never destroy the life of the other, the enemy, but eat away at one's own soul, one's own identity.

The person who was the enemy of my life may have died long ago. But through my hate, through my anger, their enmity gets new nourishment every day and lives on in me. And I do not want that. I didn't deserve this. I don't want to give him that much power over my life. That was the realization of Eva Moses Kor.

Dear sisters and brothers, it is not so much to fight the enemy, but to fight hatred. There is only one effective remedy against him: forgiveness! A remedy that can not only overcome the hatred of enemies, but also avoid suffering the painful suffering of one's own hatred, one's own anger.

When it says in the gospel today that we should love our enemies, it's less about the enemies and more about ourselves. We have to be aware of that. As children of God, we have a perspective of truth that calls us to love. hatred does not belong to our identity; we cannot give what we do not have. We are God's temple, bearing the Spirit of God. God's children who are to be perfect, like their heavenly Father. We don't let hate and anger rule us, but let the Holy Spirit fill us! We ask for his help.

Gospel of 7th Sunday of the annual cycle in the reading year B;