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Bishop's Message/Blog

Choosing love over hatred
  • Let’s embrace our enemies with open minds and hearts

My dear brothers, my dear sisters in Christ, Matthew 5:43-48, confronts us with the profound challenge to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus said, “You have learnt how it was said, you must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” In a world often marred by division, conflict and animosity, these words are truly radical and challenging. Jesus said this to His disciples because He calls us to embrace a higher standard, one that transcends the limitations of our human nature and the natural disposition of people.

He invites us to embody love, even in the face of hatred, to respond to hostility with kindness and to confront animosity with compassion. In a country characterised by ethnic and religious diversity, tensions can run high, and conflicts can escalate quickly. Yes, it is precisely in these moments of tension that the message of Jesus rings true. Our country like many nations is grappling with deep seated divisions that threaten to tear apart the fabric of society. Ethnic strife, religious intolerance, economic and climate problems, as well as political rivalries have all contributed to an atmosphere of distrust and hostility.

However, amidst all of these challenges, there remains hope; hope in the transformative power of love. As we journey through the season of Lent, let us take to heart the message of Jesus, and strive to be agents of reconciliation and peace. Let us reach out to those who have hurt us, extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us, and embrace our enemies with open minds and hearts, for it is in these acts of love that we truly reflect the image of God. Let us remember that love is not a mere sentiment but a choice; a choice to see the humanity in every person, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs.

It is a choice to stand against the tide of hatred and division and to build bridges of understanding and empathy. We are not required to like the ways of our enemies or their actions or activities, but we are required to love them in the way that St. Thomas Aquinas described that is to will their good. Love is willing the good of the other. As we meditate on the words of Jesus, may we be inspired to live out this message in our daily lives. May we be instruments of love in a world desperately in need of healing and reconciliation, and may we by our example help to reduce the hatred in the world, and bring about the kingdom of God here on earth.

Let us pray for the grace to follow the footsteps of Jesus who loved even those who persecuted Him, and may we like St. Francis of Assisi be empowered by the Holy Spirit to sow seeds of love wherever there is hatred, bringing hope and healing to a broken world. As we begin this day, I bless you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.



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