Praying for Our Enemies Can Heal Our Hearts

June 26, 2016 at 4:51 am Leave a comment

Pope’s Morning Homily: ‘Praying for Our Enemies Can Heal Our Hearts’

At Casa Santa Marta, Reminds Faithful of Twofold Power of Prayer

L'Osservatore Romano

Praying for our enemies can heal our hearts.

The Pope made this strong statement during his homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, reported Vatican Radio.

Recalling his own childhood in Argentina, when people prayed that dictators would go to hell, the Pope recalled how Jesus himself tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.

In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew where Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies and noted that this instruction was in contrast to what the Doctors of the Law taught in those days: “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”

The Jewish Law, Francis said, was being taught in a way that was too theoretical, based only on the letter of the Law and not on the love of God at the heart of that Law.

Because of this, the Pontiff explained, Jesus repeats the most important commandment of the Old Testament: Love your God with all your heart, and with all your strength, and with all your soul, and your neighbour as yourself. Francis lamented that this was not at the heart of what the Doctors of the Law were teaching, as they were only worried about details and individual cases.

However, he explained, Jesus shows the true sense of the Law which he came to fulfill, offering many examples to show the commandments in a new light and to prove that love is more generous than the letter of the Law: “From ‘Do not kill’ meaning don’t insult or be angry with your brother, to the instructions to give your coat to the person who demands your shirt, or go the extra mile with the person who wants to be accompanied for one mile.”

Journey of Healing

This response, the Argentine Pope highlighted, is not just to fulfill the Law, but to help heal our hearts. The Jesuit Pontiff noted how in St. Matthew’s Gospel, as Jesus explains the commandments, there is a journey of healing. “Every heart wounded by sin – as each one of us has – must undertake this journey of healing in order to be more like ‘our heavenly Father (who) is perfect,’” he said.

The last and most difficult step on this journey towards perfection, Pope Francis warned, is contained in Jesus’ words from today’s reading: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

What Prayer Will Do

Francis recalled that as a child, people used to pray for God to send the dictators of that period to hell, but instead, he said, God calls us to examine our consciences and to pray for our enemies.

Before concluding, Pope Francis prayed the Lord give us grace to pray for those individuals who hurt and persecute us since the power of prayer will do two things: “it will change that person for the better and it will make us become more like children of our heavenly Father.”

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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

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