They're Wrong. Love them Anyway.

The following first appeared in the Summer issue of Marian Helper magazine. Get a free copy.

We live in a sharply divided country.

The culture wars have gone on for decades over foundational truths and fundamental human rights. The political parties publicly act out some of the worst displays of putting partisanship before principles in living memory. We face leaders of questionable integrity and dispute basic facts.

And more: Globally, Christianity faces active persecution in some places and eviction from the public square by practically atheistic secularization in others.

The future remains unclear; the present, murky; the past, all too often forgotten.

In such a world, it's easy to become militant, to believe that speaking the truth requires giving the liars a tongue-lashing, if not more. We turn to memes and videos by our favorite pundits, retweet sarcasm and perhaps even slander, and refuse to acknowledge or rebuke those who lie on our side because we're so infuriated by those liars on the other side.

I know this all too well; I suffer from some of these temptations and sometimes fall.

But I can't remain there. No Marian Helper can. Divine Mercy calls us to a better way.

We're not allowed to remain in bitterness. We Marian Helpers, we devotees of the Divine Mercy, we Catholic Christians are not allowed to blindly or blithely accept the sins of "our side" as necessary in order to counter the greater evils of "their side." All of us in any human conflict, on all sides, are brothers and sisters in Adam, if not in Christ.

And so we, like the earliest Christians living under persecution in pagan Rome, have to learn how to live side by side with our enemies. It's a great work of mercy, after all, to love the liar; to love a sinner; to love someone who believes in evil or pursues evil.

And these days, that's the norm.

There are people on the left and the right who are wrong about basic, fundamental issues of human rights and dignity. Some advocate for real, grave evil, all in the name of the pursuit of a real good - but our faith says we should never choose to do evil in order that good may come of it.

And what are we to do with people supporting evil? We must love them.

During Holy Mass, I saw Jesus stretched out on the Cross, and He said to me, "My pupil, have great love for those who cause you suffering. Do good to those who hate you." (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1628)

We are called to love those people over there, the dissidents, the heretics, apostates, and schismatics.

We are to love the people who are inappropriate, unseemly, or simply wrong.

We are called to love, and to love everybody, all the time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with the same love that moved Christ to become incarnate, suffer, and die for us.

We are called most especially to love those whom we find hardest to love, those who have sinned against us, who have hurt us and our loved ones.

Saint Faustina recorded in her Diary that she found herself in conversation with someone who had caused her harm. At first St. Faustina was tempted to just bluntly tell her the truth and ignore the consequences, but then she recollected herself and was merciful, sharing the truth in love. In response, Jesus said to her, "I am glad you behaved like My true daughter. Be always merciful as I am merciful. Love everyone out of love for Me, even your greatest enemies, so that My mercy may be fully reflected in your heart" (1695).

Now, that doesn't mean we cease to stand up for the truth, but it does mean we are always to defend the truth in love. It's a hard call to answer, perhaps even a humanly impossible call, but we are gifted the power of the Holy Spirit. The love of God has entered our hearts through Baptism. We have been sealed with the love of God in Confirmation and had that love renewed at every properly received Eucharist. We are revived in that love of God at each Confession.

We have everything we need to run this race of the Christian life in love, if only we open our mouths and our hearts in prayer, and so breathe in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and live the divine life now.

So in this time of discord and strife, of accusation of the brethren and the politics of envy and total war, let us recommit ourselves to loving those who disagree with us - even if they are clearly and truly in the wrong. Let us challenge ourselves and our parish communities to be beacons of light in the midst of the storm, forgiving and washing the feet of those who persecute us, serving faithfully with the love of God dwelling in our hearts. Let us be determined witnesses to the truth in love, always seeing that we're speaking to a brother or sister, not simply an opponent or an enemy, and practicing the same life-giving love that Christ practiced at Calvary, forgiving those who did Him wrong (see Lk 23:34; see also Rom 5:6-8).

And let us pray for one another that we may have the grace and virtue needed to live up to this high and incredibly hard calling, that we may live supernatural lives in the Holy Spirit, and be ready to pick each other up if (when!) we fall short.

Chris Sparks is the author of How Can You Still Be Catholic: 50 Answers to a Good Question (Marian Press).


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