|Praying for Our Enemies|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Tuesday, 26 February 2008 10:37|
"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, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust." Mt 5:43-45
A friend of mine pointed out to me yesterday that often at Mass here in Colorado Springs (and I'm sure in many cities) we pray regularly for the men and women in our armed forces. This makes sense since there are so many military bases around the Springs, and about 40% of the population is former military members. He asked me, "how come we never pray for our enemies? I've never heard anyone pray for Osama bin Laden, or Kim Il-Sung, or FIdel Castro."
He caught me off guard. In the Masses in which I lead the prayers of the faithful, I try to include a wide variety of groups of people, and often look through the paper before Mass for ideas. I've prayed publicly for criminals, illegal immigrants to this country, and politicians, but somehow I had not thought to include terrorists, enemy combatants, members of the mafia, drug pushers, the fallen executives of Enron, or heads of state of the "axis of evil." It hadn't really crossed my mind.
Now that it has, I will try to include these folks in our public prayer. I'll probably preface such prayers with "Jesus taught us to pray for those who persecute us..." Why? Because I'm a coward. I suspect some people would take exception to prayers for terrorists and suicide bombers. Yes, the things they do are despicable (I was horrified at the recent report that two women with Down's syndrome were fitted with explosives that were detonated by remote control as they walked through outdoor markets).
Yet, do we believe in the power of prayer, or not? Do we believe that God's grace is effective and capable of transforming lives - even the lives of our enemies? What would happen if Christians who want a swift return of our troops from Iraq and Christians who want to keep our troops there until Iraq has a stable government all began praying for a change of heart for the terrorists? Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Is there any chance at all that He may know something that we do not? If we aren't willing to trust Him, is He really our Lord? I suppose this is nothing new. He said to his own followers, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command?" Lk 6:46
Perhaps, however, it's time for us to change, and to take Him at His word.