Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Tue, 20/04/2010 – 09:05
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: Acts / Handelinge
Chapter: 9
Verse: 1 – 16

Who cares for the enemy?

We all know this story as a story of conversion and a changed life. What struck me this time, was whose conversion it was. Saul was a prominent member of the “enemy”! I asked myself: “Who are our enemies? Who is going around spreading fear and bringing death to us? Who is going around spreading fear and bringing death to those living with or directly affected by HIV and AIDS?”

I looked at the text and saw Jesus reaching out to this dreaded prosecutor of the church, this Pharisee, this friend of the empire. Then, I asked myself some really difficult questions. Who cares about the “enemy”? There are these people who mock and stigmatise people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Who call them “enemies”? I am. I fear and ignore them. “They are beyond redemption.” Who believe that an individual full of hatred and prejudice, without empathy and with the sensitivity of a rock can change? Can such a person change?

Clint Eastwood’s film, Unforgiven, asks this question. Can a violent man change? William Munny is a “retired” murderer. He is also a father living with his two children on a farm. One day he receives a visitor, known as “The Kid”. He invites Munny to come along to claim a bounty. It will involve violence. At first, Munny refuses, but then his past hauled him in. First, he wondered if he could still shoot, he fetched his guns and started to practise. Eventually, he rode off, leaving the children and the chicken alone. His violent past caught up with him.

He could not change. “The Kid” lead Munny to his death.

Saul approved of the violent death of Stephen. Christ broke the cycle of violence and hatred.

Christ loved the enemy and Saul changed. Enemies can change! Christ loves them.

In every community, there is animosity. There are these people, these “enemies”, who go around spreading false information, false hope, and lies about HIV and AIDS. They attach stigma to those living with HIV and AIDS, and to those affected by it.

We oppose them, but who loves them?

Who loves them like Jesus loved Paul?

Paul and his people hated Jesus enough to kill him. Jesus loved them enough to die. Can we love our enemies enough – so that they can change too?

The violent one asked: “Who are you, sir?”, and the answer came: “I am Jesus, whom you persecute!” Indeed, who are we?

To think about or discuss: How can we avoid making new enemies in our attempts to challenge the stigma of HIV and AIDS? 

Author: J Pieters (Ds) Language: English