Third Sunday after Trinity 2017
July 2, 2017
Epistle: I Peter 5: 5-11
Gospel: Luke 15: 1-10
“The Face of the Enemy”
It’s so easy to look at others that disagree with us or who persecute us and vilify them. They become the “enemy”. As Christians though, we find our enemy is not so clearly defined. While we may want to put a human face on wickedness, the real enemy dwells in “high places” – the enemy is not the vehicle (the human involved) but the wickedness behind it. The Church has referred over the centuries to our battle against sin, the flesh, and the Devil. These are the foes of Christian virtue and righteousness.
In our epistle from Peter, we read about the devil being compared to a “roaring lion” which wanders around the camp at night, “seeking whom he may devour”. The intrinsic understanding here is that if the lion had any teeth or strength he would attack. But the lion (Satan) has no strength against the Christian – he has no teeth nor the ability to chase after us and take us down. It is only by being scared by his roaring and running away from the light of Christ that we find ourselves brought into the hands of our enemy. Fear, distrust, selfishness and the like all lead to destruction by our spiritual enemy. We wrestle not against flesh and blood (as Paul tells us) but against the institutional conceptions of evil that rule the world and drive men to sin.
When we feel called to hate others, we are ignoring God’s love for all men expressed in Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross. Instead of concentrating on individuals as though they themselves are our nemesis, we must remember that the battle we fight is won on a spiritual plane. There, we are called to fight by submitting ourselves to one another in humility, praying for one another, seeking the best for one another, and sharing the love of God amongst ourselves, and with our neighbors. It is only through exemplifying the love of God in our everyday behavior that we will overcome our enemy consistently.
At times though, it seems impossible to win. We feel overwhelmed and outgunned. When we come to those moments, the only answer is prayer and praising God. When we praise God, the heavens are opened, and He magnifies Himself in our presence. Open your heart to the Lord whenever you feel oppressed or overcome, and praise Him with all of your being. When you seek Him above all things, your heart will be made whole, and joy will seep into your soul.