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Grievance Free in the Presence of Enemies

            You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. (Ps 23:5)

Our emotions influence what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. Negative feelings can interfere with our enjoyment of food. And eating in the presence of our enemies would upset our appetite. So why does the psalmist write: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”? Because it signifies how we are able to have peace and victory over our enemies through faith and love.

In our journey of faith, one of the hardest lessons is to learn how to forgive our enemies and be released from our own bitter feelings. If we can love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us, then we will be perfect (cf. Mt 5:44, 48).

The Lord Jesus sets the example for us. Having loved His own to the end, He washed His disciples’ feet at the last supper, even the feet of His betrayer, Judas.

Loving our enemies and being released from our inner struggles to not harbor resentment and bitterness can be as hard as moving a mountain. But faith can bring us victory, for it is the promise of Lord Jesus: “If you have faith and do not doubt…if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done” (Mt 21:21).

The process of being released from all negative feelings, in particular bitterness, could be slow and tearful. But those who have faith in God and love for even enemies will discover overflowing blessings as described in Psalm 84:6 (NIV): “As they pass through the Valley of Baka (or Valley of Weeping), they make it a place of springs.”

They will receive strength and a wellspring of comfort in this difficult endeavor. The expression, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”, signifies having perfect peace even in the midst of our enemies.

Questions for Reflection

1.      Who is your enemy? Have you held grudges and stepped into darkness without knowing it (cf. 1 Jn 2:9)?

2.      Does reflecting on the foot washing sacrament help relieve your grievances?


Author: Sarah Lin