Love Your Enemies

The soldiers, on orders from Pontius Pilate, took Jesus to be flogged, but in their way down, they smelled the soup’s aroma coming from the kitchen.

“Let’s eat first. I’m starving,” said one soldier.

The second soldier agreed, ” Yes, I’m hungry too. Let’s lock this fellow up and we’ll flog him later.”

They pushed Jesus inside a dark cell and locked the door.

“Ha! Look, who is here, the prophet from Nazareth? Why are you here? Did you kill an enemy as I tried to do?” Said, a youth, sitting on the floor against the wall.

Jesus stared in the dark, trying to see who had spoken; he walked toward the voice and sat beside him on the straw.

“No, I have no enemies and if I did, I would love them like brothers.”

“Ha! What a silly thing to say! Love an enemy, who ever heard of that?”

“It’s not as silly as you think. You must love yours very much because you are here in this cell for his sake,” said Jesus.

“You are mad!” The youth laughed. “I hate that Roman pig. He mocked me every time I went into his shop— he pretended he could not hear me. ‘ Talk louder, little snake girl. Look how she flicks her tongue. I can’t hear you. You speak so softly, so sweetly.’ He would laugh and everyone in the shop will laugh with him. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer, I had to kill him to prove I wasn’t a girl ”

“It would have been more sensible to go somewhere else to shop. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, I guess so, but my father likes the cloth he sells. My father’s a tailor”

“Did you tell your father he was mocking you?”

“No, I was ashamed”

“That was a mistake. So you gave your life to prove him wrong?” said Jesus.

“I did not give my life for him. I tried to take his!”

“I’m glad you didn’t succeed.”

“I’m not! He dodged and my ax only chop off his ear. Other customers jumped on me and held me down before I could finish him off.”

“The Romans are going to send you to the salt mines for the rest of your life. Are they not?”

“I guess they will”

“That’s why I said you gave him your life. Would you have sacrificed your life for your best friend?”

“Maybe not,” said the boy.

“Isn’t that sad that some people don’t hesitate to throw their life away for an enemy, but deny a coin to a friend?”

Accustomed to the darkness, Jesus’ eyes could see the prisoner’s face now— a boy, in his early teens, with hairless sunken cheeks. He had lost his front teeth in a street fight and now spoke with a lisp in a mumbling thin voice, his tongue flickering through the gap in his mouth.

“What’s your name?

“Saul”

“Saul, my name is Jesus. Jesus placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder and spoke so softly that Saul had to lean toward him to hear. “You see, Saul, when you attack
someone because they mock you what you are showing is that you consider that person’s opinion so important that you are willing to get hurt to change his mind. Does
it make sense to show respect for someone that is mocking you?”

“No, Rabbi, it doesn’t.”

“Saul, in a dispute, who do you think strikes the first blow? It is always the less intelligent who uses violence because he fears he would lose otherwise. People think that to attack is a sign of courage, but it’s always a sign of fear.

“I see now you are right, Rabbi.”

“You should have told your father what was happening. Now you’ll be lock up with men much worse than the one who mocked you, and those men will abuse you in ways
you can’t yet imagine.”

“Saul lowered his head and stared at the straw. ” I still can’t understand why you said; you would love an enemy like a brother. What could be the point in that?”

Jesus placed his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “Saul, that shopkeeper was giving you an incentive to improve your speech, to become less sensitive to your appearance.
Granted he was doing it for the wrong reasons— he was having fun at your expense, but nonetheless, he was telling you things you needed to know. You see, our friends, don’t tell us what is wrong with us out of fear to lose our friendship, but if we listen to our enemies, we could eliminate many faults we chose to ignore. That is why people who don’t like us are so valuable to us and we should love them. They place their souls at risk to offer us that service.”

“Rabbi, I can see now I was stupid and I’m sorry for what I did. I wish I had talked to you before I stroke that blow, but now it can’t be helped and I’ll have to spent the rest of my life mining salt.”

“Maybe not, has Pilate hear your case yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, there is hope then. Tell Pilate when you see him that I have given you a confidential message for him and that you need to whisper it in his ear. Tell him, I know he wanted to set me free, but could not for political reasons. Tell him, I am asking him to set you free, and if he does, God will have mercy on him at the hour of his death.”

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One Response to “Love Your Enemies”

  1. Tom McFerran Says:

    “Whisper in his ear.”

    It is not the lion’s roar but the bleat of a lost lamb
    that softens the heart, it is the voice of silence.

    “I cannot breathe enough of thee
    thou fairest of the fair,
    I do not wish to go out free
    but always, ever, willingly
    to serve thee to the end,
    to serve thee to the end.”

    Words from a Christian hymn.

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