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Jesus said, "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Luke 6.27-31


There is a theory in Biblical criticism that says that the things which Jesus says in the Gospels which we find hard to swallow are most likely to be the authentic words of Jesus. That would mean that this passage from what is commonly called 'The Sermon on the Mount' is definitely the unvarnished Jesus!

Love your enemies, what a demand.

But love is different to liking one's enemies or those who set themselves against us. Love is not allowing those who are doing things which are wrong and/or harmful continue in doing that. Love is not aquiescence to the terrible deeds which some undertake.

Love resists evil, but continues to pray for the wellbeing of even those who are in opposition to us, even those who perpetuate evil. Love prays for the softening of hearts, and the changing of lives. 

Jesus here encourages us to love even those who mistreat us, and refuse to take offense at their behaviour. Yet he doesn't encourage passivity, or encourage us to accept abuse. Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, is a way of showing those who act badly the shame of their actions. It is about the work of transformation through acts of love, which change the way in which we respond to those who would set themselves up as our enemies.


Jesus, Prince of Peace,
you have asked us to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us.
We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
With the help of the Holy Spirit,
may all people learn to work together
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
To you be glory and honor for ever and ever. Amen

from Catholic Online