You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
I read this passage from the Sermon on the Mount in June, when Rev Jo Richards was considering, with her churchwardens, how to open up their churches. They felt that with the Cathedral nave open in the evening there would be a building people could enter to pray privately. After Mrs T and I visited, we agreed with them.
But I was reminded of another time we visited; it was for an open evening, where we saw an order of service from 1914-1918, which included a prayer for our enemies. Then as now, Europeans were working in each others’ countries, had spouses, cousins, who were citizens of elsewhere, and suddenly found themselves ‘at war’ with dear ones.
When we pray for our enemies we are praying for our brothers and sisters; let us not make enemies for ourselves today in public or private life.
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.