In the first reading John said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar.” If we pair that statement with Jesus telling us to love our enemies, we must conclude that as Christians we cannot rightfully hate anyone.
That thought suddenly brought back a seventy-year-old memory for me. I was in a seminary high school where all our teachers were priests. We were two or three years into the war with Japan then, and what I remember is Father Duggan venting his anger against the Japanese. He said they were vicious dogs, and we should kill them all.
People were talking that way back then; but since then we have come to know the Japanese as people like ourselves; and we have heard the stories of young Japanese boys who were torn away from their families ad made to fight in a war they hated.
Let me tell another story. The lead front page story in yesterday’s New York Times told of a 43 year-old hospital administrator in Saudi Arabia. As a Sunni Muslim, he was giving his vacation time to fighting against Assad dictatorship in Syria. He thought he was taking part in a holy war, a jihad, but he changed his mind when he came on two slaughtered children in the street. When he asked his Sunni commander about the corpses, the man told him the children had to die because they were not true Muslims.
If you scan the foreign headlines any day you find that almost every item tells of rival tribesmen or rival political adherents killing each other out of loyalty to God as they know him. While, in fact, no one who hates his brother whom he can see cannot really love our hidden God.