PAUL WAS in a terrible situation. He was on the high seas in a ship that was beginning to go down into the ocean. He understood immediately that all those passengers who could not find space in one of the lifeboats would die in those distant, cold waters. He immediately got ready to help the people get into the boats.
Then the unexpected took place: Paul came face to face with his worst enemy, the man who, years earlier, had killed his son and his wife. What should he do? That was his opportunity to get revenge for the grievance suffered, or, on the contrary, to forgive and love his enemy. He chose the second option. Feeling compassion for the man who was before him, he led him from the deck to the lifeboat. Then he saw him leaving while he himself saved his own life.
The Gospels are very clear: Jesus asked us to love our enemies. «To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also» (Luke 6:29). «You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good» (Matthew 5:43—45). What type of love is He asking of us?
There are several types of love, and the word that Jesus uses on this occasion is agapao. Agape love is not the emotional type that is given, for example, among members of a family or among friends; agape love is the love of respect, a generous love that does whatever it can to make sure that the other person is well. is the type of love that Jesus wants us to have for the person with whom we do not get along, and who will not thank us.
Agape love is the one that is under the control of will, conviction, and faith. Loving our enemy is considering him or her the way God does: as His child and therefore deserving of respect and courtesy. It should be clear to us: Jesus asks us to have agape love toward our enemies. That is being a daughter of God. That is Christian maturity.
«You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ‘ But I say to you, love your enemies» (Matthew 5:43, 44).