Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people and set them free . . . He promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.
(Lk 1:68; 70-71)
In his canticle, Zechariah rejoiced that the Lord had come to the People of Israel to save them from their enemies, from those who hated them. But it begs the question: Who is the enemy today? It’s a good question since, according to one count, the word enemy (or “enemies”) is found in the Bible 372 times! So, who are our enemies?
First, just as Israel had enemies in its day, so too does the Christian Church have enemies in our day. The Church has always had enemies, beginning with Saul of Tarsus, during the Roman Empire, and continuing throughout the ages. And in some parts of the world, even today, Christians are persecuted and martyred. Closer to home the disdain for the Church is on full display in the vandalism of churches and statues, in punitive lawsuits, in the halls of Congress, and in our secular society.
It’s possible that as we’ve traveled through life we’ve gained some personal enemies too. Perhaps family and friends have disowned us because of our moral convictions. Maybe we’ve caused a family feud, or have acted badly and have betrayed or cheated someone. To be honest, sometimes our enemies are well-deserved.
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies and our relentless foes are found within. Are there habits, attachments or passions that harm us and hold us back? Is it the baggage of some past mistake or unforgiven sin that’s weighing us down? Is it anger, fear or cynicism that corrodes our spirit; vices that rob us of freedom and joy and make us an unwelcome companion to others?
In the end, though, the enemy to be feared most is Satan, the Devil. He and his minions are the only enemies who can rob us of our spiritual inheritance, deprive us of eternal life, and lead us to the everlasting fires of hell. St. Peter warned us, in stark language: “Your opponent the Devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” (I Pt 5:8-9)
A final point – even though we have enemies, we should never be afraid, for as St. Paul assured us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)
Something to think about: Do you have any enemies?