A retreat leader once put on a pair of cheap sunglasses with white crosses painted on the lenses. His point? To stress that Jesus invites us to see others as he sees them- through the lens of the cross; through the lens of love.
This would include our enemies, as today’s gospel makes clear. Jesus knows that when someone threatens us, attacks us, or has seriously hurt us, it’s easy for us to see them as nothing more than the source of our pain. They’re “demonized,” making them, in a sense, less than human.
When Jesus invites us to love our enemies, he invites us to see them as he sees them. As a person made in God’s image. Who perhaps was acting out of pain, ignorance, or illness. Who is not entirely bad. Someone for whom Jesus died. Someone who, in spite of whatever they may have done, is nevertheless still loved by God.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t defend ourselves and others and challenge hurtful behavior. Love may require this! And love doesn’t make us into a doormat. But love also leads to other possibilities that hate precludes. Hatred only drives apart. Love can bring together. It is only love, and not hate, that holds out the potential - the hope - of chasms being bridged, fences being mended, hurts being healed, and of enemies becoming friends.