By Tom Quiner
Hell is eternal separation from God. As long as we have a breath left in our bodies, though, we have an opportunity for repentance, conversion, and salvation.
Something that separates us from God in this life is hate. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Just this morning, I saw a video on Twitter of a Trump-hater.
He wore a mask as he walked into a public place. And then he began to scream, “F*%k Trump, f*%k Trump, f*%k Trump!”
It went on and on. His eyes were all we could see of his face, and they were filled with rage. He is but one of thousands, even tens of thousands on the political Left who are filled with an unquenchable rage for a man and a political party that won the last election.
This hatred is a sickness that threatens their very souls. But it also threatens the souls of those on the other side of the aisle, we conservatives, if we let their hate infect our souls with hate. In other words, we can’t be the same as them and hate them back.
This was driven home to me in an extraordinarily beautiful homily written by an unnamed Catholic from the early Greek Church:
“We have seen how murder is born from anger and adultery from desire. In the same way, the hatred of an enemy is destroyed by the love of friendship.
Suppose you have viewed a man as an enemy, yet after a while he has been swayed by your benevolence. You will then love him as a friend.
I think that Christ ordered these things not so much for our enemies as for us: not because enemies are fit to be loved by others but because we are not fit to hate anyone. For hatred is the prodigy of dark places.
Wherever it resides, it sullies the beauty of sound sense. Therefore not only does Christ order us to love our enemies for the sake of cherishing them but also for the sake of driving away from ourselves what is bad for us.
The Mosaic law does not speak about physically hurting your enemy but about hating your enemy. But if you merely hate him, you have hurt yourself more in the spirit than you have hurt him in the flesh.
Perhaps you don’t harm him at all by hating him. But you surely tear yourself apart. If then you are benevolent to an enemy, you have rather spared yourself than him. And if you do him a kindness, you benefit yourself more than him.” (excerpt from INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 13, The Greek Fathers)
As we confront those who rage against us, let us pray for these angry souls. The stakes are high. The value of a human soul is incalculable. We can’t let hate creep into our hearts and poison our souls. That doesn’t mean that we have to like the person doing the raging. That doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their indecent behavior.
Let us hate the sin, but love the sinner, for our sake as well as that of the sinner.