Prayer: A Way of Seeing

Rev. Hans Dumpys

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
(Matthew 5:43-47)

When Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said,” he is not quoting scripture, but is likely picking up what was prevalent in his culture. What do we hear said in our society today? Hate black lives matter, hate socialists, hate welfare recipients, hate Republicans, or the opposite.

Jesus challenges what was said then and is being said today: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We make enemies of others who belong to a different group because of their skin color, social status or political party.

But you can’t love what you haven’t seen and known for yourself. Seeing involves not just perceiving someone as a member of a different group. Rather, seeing the other is seeing with the eyes of your soul, as one created in the image of God and cared for as you are. Seeing breaks down the stereotypes that our experience, imagination, and culture have created. Prayer is the way to seeing the other as our brother and sister in all their complexity, diversity, and giftedness. Prayer transforms our angle of vision.

Therefore, we can overcome the chasm of hatreds which engulfs us and our society. In Christ God has given us his unbounded love and invites us to treat others with the same heavenly love. This is God’s gift of grace in him who came to give his life for the reconciliation of all humanity.

Prayer: O God, grant us courage to behold each other as your gifts whom we are called to love as you love us all. Amen.

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