Jesus leaves us wondering how we might go about loving an enemy. It occurs to me that empathy might work. I understand that empathy consists in your imagining you are that other person.
I think that Method Acting works something like that. Like, if you have been given the role of acting like an old fashioned cop walking his beat; you mind find one of them; then you’d walk down the street a block behind him, pretending you are clicking your night stick along a picket fence, pausing to pick out the best apple on thee cart. You’d put on that man’s attitudes, agreeing with them.
I tell a story from fifty years ago in Korea. In preparing a sermon on “Love your neighbor as yourself” it occurred to me that I always took that to mean, “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” But, what if he meant, “Love your neighbor as though he were yourself?”
After my second Mass the following Sunday I was anxious to get in for my breakfast, but I was able to get my mind off eating when three pretty girls came up to chat in the church yard. I was enjoying that when an old lady leaning on a stick pulled at my sleeve saying, “Look at my bad eye.” I gave her eye a glance, then quickly looked away. Her eye was like a badly fried egg.
Then, I remembered thinking Jesus wanted me to pretend I was the person I found distasteful, So, I turned back to the old lady, imagining how I would like being her. Almost by magic I slipped on that old personality. With that, I saw that if the kids racing around her (me), knocked her stick, she’d fall on her face.
I had a quick succession of thoughts. I thought that the kind of people who say I have nice eyes once told her she had pretty eye. How does she deal with her loss of charm? I wished I had the money to help fix up her eye.
I knew that the old lady came from over the hill behind the church. And with it occurring to me that it had rained all night, making the path a slippery stream, I told her, “It was wonderful of you to make it to Mass over that terribly slippery path.”