About This Love Your Enemies Lesson Plan
This Love Your Enemies lesson plan will help youth understand why God asks us to love our enemies. This is very difficult to do, but by changing hearts we can change the world.
For background material to prepare for this lesson plan, read the article on Why Must I Pray for My Enemies?
Opening Game for Conversion of Heart Lesson Plan
Start by playing Change My Heart Relay Race Game (see the directions).
We can probably all agree that changing the heart from stone to candy was fun, and not too difficult. But changing our own hearts can be challenging. But that is exactly what Jesus tells us to do.
Love Your Enemies – A Lesson Plan on Conversion of Heart
Scripture Reading for Love Your Enemies Lesson Plan
Read the Gospel:
Luke 6:27-38 (Jesus us tells us to love our enemies) – the Gospel Reading for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”Luke 6:27-38
Discussion about Conversion of Heart
There is a lot of conflict in our world. Sometimes when we think of enemies we think of another country waging war with us or people who might try to attack us with weapons, such as terrorists. But the concept of enemies goes so much further than that.
We hear about culture wars these days. People on opposite sides of an issue want to win so badly that they attack those who don’t agree with them. They don’t attack with weapons, but they attack with words and by using facts selectively. So this is another example of an enemy.
But enemies can also be even closer to us than that. An enemy can be someone who gossips about us or makes fun of us. An enemy can be a former friend who has betrayed us. And these enemies are often the ones who cause us the most pain because they are so close.
In this gospel, Jesus is inviting you to love your enemies. This includes enemies who are far, far away, and enemies who are using their influence in society, and personal enemies who have really hurt us deep down.
The command to “love your enemies” seems almost impossible. When we are around our enemies, our hearts can become hard because we don’t want to be hurt again. Our hearts become vengeful because we want the people who hurt us feel the same pain they caused us.
How can we possibly do that? The key seems to be in the last part of this reading:
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
The change of heart Jesus calls us to is not easy. But he reminds us that we are also in need of mercy and forgiveness. Our hardened hearts need to become open and loving hearts. Our vengeful hearts need to become forgiving hearts.
God loves all of His children. Jesus died for all of humanity, including those who have wounded us. That is why he asks you to love your enemies. God is gathering all of us to Him, not just the people we love. There is no one whom God will not forgive.
Change of heart takes some work. It is very difficult to love your enemies. It doesn’t just happen. Here are some ideas which can help.
- Your pain is real. It was not right for the other person to hurt you. Forgiveness does not excuse the wrong which was done to you. Spend some time talking to Jesus about how hurt you are.
- Your wound may have an impact on your life, and you might carry it for a while. After the Resurrection , Jesus still carried his wounds. He showed them to Thomas. Talk to Jesus about this.
- Ask God for the desire to forgive the other person. It can take some time to want to forgive. Keep asking God for this desire.
- We tend have a need to be “right” and for others to see that we are right. God who sees all will deliver justice on His own terms. Surrender the need for revenge and offer up your anger to God, as a sacrifice of love to Him.
- Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. You do not need to have a relationship with the person who hurt you. Stop waiting for their repentance. It is holding you hostage. Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It will only harm you.
- Remember that you are also a sinner and you have hurt others.
- Don’t spend time thinking about the person who hurt you. When you feel yourself thinking about wanting them to suffer, talk to Jesus instead. Tell Him about your pain and ask Him to help you.
Reflection Questions for Love Your Enemies Lesson Plan
- Can you think of a time when you did something wrong and were forgiven? How did it feel?
- Have you ever considered that God loves your “enemy” just as much as He loves you?
- Does it help to think about how Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, even though they showed no signs of repentance?
Challenge for Change of Heart
This week, think of how your heart needs to change. Pray for someone who has hurt you. Ask God for the grace to forgive him or her. If you find yourself thinking about this person, talk to Jesus instead.
Conclude by offering petitions and praying to love your enemies with this Prayer for Someone Who Has Hurt You.
Resources for Blessings and Woes Lesson Plan
Praying for Someone Who Has Hurt You
Praying for someone who has hurt you is difficult. This prayer is especially powerful if you are still harboring some resentment. Pray from your heart, but if you are having trouble getting started, try this prayer.
Forgiveness Is Not the Same as Reconciliation
When we are hurt, we must understand that forgiveness is not making the other person pay for what they have done to us. We release them from our debt. But we can also release them from the relationship.
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