Where There Is Hatred, Let Me Sow Love

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words from this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. So, while this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.

I would like to take each line and reflect on it. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog on this site. I may even write a book based on this prayer.

We have now come to the second line of this prayer, which may be the most challenging line of this prayer.  The second line of the St. Francis Prayer is not just about loving others, but bringing the light of love to shine in the darkness of hate.

It’s not easy to love. At times, we have trouble loving our family and friends and all too often, we don’t even want to be kind to strangers yet alone love them. I’d rather read my books and see movies than be troubled with loving people. Who has time or energy to love everyone? I know that loving others is true and beautiful. By loving others, I am becoming my more authentic self. When I am able to step out of myself long enough to love another, I glimpse a better person, the kind of person I want to be and God created me to be. I am trying to do this more often. It’s not becoming easier, if anything it’s becoming harder to do. Yet, the more I do it the more I want to do it.

Hate is a harsh reality. It’s pasted across every news headline. From school shootings to violence in home and the public to war to poverty to religious and political conflicts, hate is a present reality. Sometimes people hate for no reason, maybe they woke up and chose to hate or because they are having a bad day. We are assaulted with hate each day. Hatred is the most frightening human emotion. It consumes everything around it like a parasite. It will turn everything around it into itself. Hate spreads faster than a wild fire. When we face it, we just want to get away as fast as we can. We want to flee to safety.

This line of this prayer asks us to stay present to it and love in spite of it. To plant a seed of love that God will bloom into more love. Light casts out darkness and love defeats hate.

We often think we are too small, too ordinary to plant the seed of love. That only people like Jesus, St. Francis, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Desmond Tutu can act with love all the time. We think you must be a saint to live this line with any impact, yet we too can spread love in the grim reality of hate. We can choose to love instead.

If we follow Jesus we are called to love, care, forgive, and support others not for any reward we might gain, but to glorify God. This line asks for the ability to love where hatred is present, to say no to hate and love the unlovable. Each time we chose to love instead of hate we bring a little more of God into the world and eventually, if enough of us do this we will wake one morning and the whole world will smell like Jesus.

Mother Theresa said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

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