Mother Teresa loved her enemies

During the rule of Enver Hoxha who was the dictator who declared Albania to be atheist, Mother Teresa’s mother became ill. The dictator would not let Mother Teresa enter the country to see her dying mother, and eventually her mother died without Mother Teresa being able to see her.

Then the dictator died and Mother Teresa was able to enter her country. Mother Teresa told the Apostolic Nuncio that she wanted to go to the cemetery to see her mother’s tomb. The Nuncio offered her a ride to the cemetery and she accepted. The stipulated day, she was waiting for the Nuncio with flowers for her mom. While they were in the car going to the cemetery, the Nuncio told her that the dictator Enver Hoxha was also buried in that cemetery. Mother Teresa, at that moment, said nothing.

When they arrived at the cemetery, Mother Teresa asked the Nuncio to first go to the dictator’s grave. When they got there, she knelt down and began to pray. After quite a long time of praying, she left the flowers she was carrying for her mother on the dictator’s grave and then said “now we can go to my mother’s grave.”

I think this story is a beautiful example of what Jesus meant when he said: love your enemies (Mt 5:44). The word that Jesus uses to speak about love for your enemies is the verb “agapao” which means to love but not just whatever kind of love. In Greek there are four ways to describe love: “storgué” (familiar love), “eros” (sexual love), “filia” (related to feelings), “agapé” (benevolence). The love of benevolence is the love that makes us want something good for others even though the other is our enemy.

It is clear that Mother Teresa wanted something good for this person who became her enemy when he did not allow her to visit her mom when she was sick and about to die; in fact, she passed away without being able to see her daughter. Prayer is the greatest thing we can do for a departed person.

It is also clear that this commandment is very difficult or even impossible to fulfill. It is difficult to practice because this commandment is part of the New Law that Jesus brought, which is a Law written in our hearts rather than on stone. We can say that the grace of God writes this Law in our hearts, which means that it gives us not only the knowledge of it but also the strength for fulfilling it.

That is why charity, which is the virtue that is behind this teaching, and the virtue that allows us to love our enemies, is a supernatural virtue that is infused by God when we receive His grace. “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1822). Our neighbors are all men (cf. Lk 10:25-38), which also includes our enemies.

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