Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

A Single Grain Of Sand

By Mary Ann Hughes
Mary Ann Hughes

I saw two sentences on the Internet recently that stopped me in my tracks:

You will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love. Always be kind.

Maybe the writer got the idea from Matthew 5. Early in that chapter, Jesus gives His followers the beautiful words of the Beatitudes. He concludes with a mandate for us to love our enemies.

Let’s be honest. It’s easier to follow the words from Mark where Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I have always interpreted the word neighbor to mean my immediate family, my extended family, my dear friends — the people I really like, the people I happily pray for.

But in Matthew, Jesus is clear. He uses the word enemies, referring to those who aren’t kind to us; those who have hurt us; and by far the worst, those who have hurt the people we love.

And then he asks this question: If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

Well, that stings our sensibilities, doesn’t it?

I’m in my mid-60s. I’m finally at the point where I can pray for a single grain of sands’ worth of blessing on those I really don’t care for while asking God to shower my loved ones with a sand dunes’ worth of blessings.

Hmmm. How human that is. I’m pretty sure that that’s not what He has in mind, but that seems to be where I am right now.

So back to the first sentence. How can I reconcile the truth that God our Father loves each of us with the uncomfortable fact that I am so human in my relationships – the good ones and the bad ones?

More than 25 years ago, one of my neighbors was brand new to the faith. She confided to me that her husband was having a very rough time with his boss. She said she had begun to pray for the boss. In my sweetest Cradle Catholic voice, I said in disbelief, “What?!”

When we talked I realized that she wasn’t asking for blessings the size of a small grain of sand. No, she was asking for a mountain of blessings on this man, this bully.

What a tremendous example she set for me. She had clearly embraced Jesus’ dictate to love your enemies, and she was living it.

We have talked about that conversation so much over the years, mostly because it was a goose bump moment for me. She had just jumped into prayer for her enemy while I still struggle.

Of course, Jesus was right. And we know how to obey Him.

We must remember that each person that we meet is deeply loved by God. And we must be kind.