“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Yes! Love your enemies!
While living and working intermittently in schools and hospitals in the Middle-East over the past twenty years, I have been constantly amazed at the way in which many Jewish, Christian and Muslim colleagues were able to reach out in compassion and friendship to each other as they served the diverse community in which we were embedded.
At a time when the dominant religious and cultural groups are locked into a cycle of violence, defining themselves over and against each other, the words of their compatriot Jesus echo down through the ages, offering a way forward.
In Jesus, we see that God’s preferential option is for acceptance and the peaceful nurture of the ‘other.’ Whenever we lift up the cross as a weapon, we have denied the One who died that all may live.
Merril Kitchen has worked in Nazareth Hospital, Israel, and trained Church of Christ pastors in Melbourne. She seeks to build understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Muslim – Jewish – Christian Prayer for Peace
O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever,
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of war.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember,
And profoundly affirm,
That they are followers of the one God,
Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
Those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
Nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness
To these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love.
(Pax Christi, USA)