Charity – Twenty-Second Day of November
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. This is the greatest and the first commandment,
and the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” — St. Matt. 22:38
We should love our enemies and show them our love: first, by overcoming evil with good, as the Apostle says; secondly, because those who oppose us are rather our friends than our adversaries, for they help to destroy our self-love, which is our greatest enemy. — St. Vincent de Paul.
Someone said to St. Francis of Sales that what he found most difficult in Christianity was to love our enemies. St Francis replied: “I do not know of what material my heart is, or if God through Hi love has given me a heart different from many, as the accomplishment of this precept is easy to me. I acknowledge even that if God had forbidden me to love my enemies it would be difficult to obey.” The following proves that he felt as he spoke:
There lived in Annecy a lawyer who hated the holy prelate without any reason. He used every occasion to turn him into ridicule, to calumniate him, to show his hatred in every way. The saint, who was aware of this, meeting the man one day, spoke kindly to him, took him by the hand, and endeavored to conciliate him. Seeing his words had no effect, he said: “I perceive that you hate me, that you are ill-disposed towards me, yet be assured that even if you deprived me of one eye I would look upon you as a friend with the other.” Astonishing words! Yet they did not soften the man. He made several attempts to kill the saint, firing at him through the windows of the episcopal residence. He even made an attempt to shoot him in the street, the ball missing the saint, but striking the priest who accompanied him. When the senate of Chambéry heard of this, the man was imprisoned and condemned to death. The saint did all in his power to change the sentence, butt all he could do was to have it differed, his intention being to interest the sovereign, through friends whom he knew had influence with him. His petition was granted, and he hastened to the prison, doubting not that he would gain the heart of his enemy. He informed him of the favor he had obtained and begged him to forget forever his sentiments of hatred. Incredible to relate, instead of tears of repentance and gratitude, he received insult and abuse. The man became still more furious when he saw the saint, his benefactor, on his knees before him, begging his pardon as if he had been the criminal. At length, despairing of doing him any good, St. Francis left him; handing him the paper containing his pardon, he said: “I have saved you from the hands of justice, but if you are not converted, you will fall into the hands of God’s justice, from which no one can save you.” These words were prophetic. The monster soon after perished miserably.
A good religious, full of true charity, was in the habit of going to the Blessed Sacrament whenever she received a mortification from anyone, and saying to Our Lord: “I my Saviour, I forgive him with all my heart, for love of Thee. I beg Thou wilt pardon all his sins through Thy love for me.”
My God, I love my neighbor because Thou lovest him. I desire that he love Thee. I will neglect nothing to help him to love Thee.