Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation #34: Care for Your Enemy

This week I wandered into the next chapter of II Kings. Here is the narration of the foray of troops of the King of Aram against the King of Israel, whom Elisha forewarned. With the help of God, Elisha delivered the warring troops to the King of Israel in Samarria. The King of Israel wanted to kill them, but Elisha persuaded him instead to feed them and let them go.

Reading: II Kings 6: 8-23

Meditation: This passage gives substantive meaning to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "love thy enemy." I cannot see significant differences between a stranger, neighbor, enemy, and friend. A stranger is typically, in my experience, simply a friend in waiting, as are neighbors and even enemies. So often, we have much in common with enemies if we just take the time to find out. Elisha spent time with the warring Aramaeans, and he showed great compassion for them. It is difficult to spend time with anyone, friend or foe, and not feel compassion. Living for two years in Jordan taught me that Arabs, in general, are friends, not enemies. Living in the Soviet Union during the Cold War showed me that Russians are friends, not enemies. It was difficult in both eras of our country for many people to see that. Governments are not people, and people are generally peaceful. (Yes, admittedly, there are some misled groups of people, who choose a violent approach to living their lives and need to be managed -- with love, not hate, otherwise it just becomes one form of hatred over another.)

So many times I have been assisted in all sorts of things, including learning language and culture, finding a place to live, assistance with my kids, and much more by people considered to be my enemy. One of my favorite meals was dinner with the vice president of a Belarus university who at one time had been a captain in the Red Army, specializing in American order of battle. At the same time, I had been a captain in the US Army, specializing in Soviet order of battle. Oh, my! That was a highly emotional meeting, and here he was, giving food and drink to me, his enemy, the same way that Elisha had urged the King of Israel to feed the troops of the King of Aram.

The height of bad thinking about enemies was exhibited by my own mother years ago, who at the time had just met my best friend, an immigrant from Russia. "I thought you told me Sonya is Russian," Ma said, implying that she did not view her that way and was confused.

"She is," I replied.

"She cannot be," Ma objected. "She is normal."

Yes, our enemies are often every bit as "normal" as our friends. When we learn that, perhaps there will be a chance for a little more peace in the world.

(And if you want to read a heart-warming war story in which the heart of one German soldier, invading Belarus, was touched by an enemy baby, related to me years later by a survivor from that family, click here: Three Vignettes and One Thought about an Enemy).

And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to ask God to lead me to treat my "enemies" as friends, to thank Him for his daily guidance even though I sometimes pay scant attention to it or am aware of it later than I should be, to praise Him for the wonderful ways in which He can and does set us free from our hatreds and petty annoyances with neighbors simply by our turning to Him for help. After that, I will spend as much time as I can in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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