While driving home, I was stopped at a red light behind a brand new pickup truck that was flaunting a hateful, anti-Christian bumper sticker. I was stunned by the wicked display against our Lord, and as a Christian, was also personally insulted. It provoked me to want to get out of my car and give the guy the what for, but while waiting for the light to turn, realized what a poor Christian example that would make. Remembering St. Paul’s description of Christian charity, I opted for silence over arrogance or rudeness, knowing I’d need a lot of grace to show any patience or kindness toward this guy. Besides, I thought, he must be pretty enraged to display such a message, so there was no telling how he’d respond. The light turned green and I drove on, still irritated.
I followed the truck further than expected until it finally turned onto a street fairly close to mine, and since that day, have spotted it several times in the area. I noticed how young he is and how he had strategically placed the sticker on the driver’s back window, which actually keeps his identity hidden from behind. I wondered what sort of hurt he is trying to conceal and why he purposely defaced his new truck with such a hostile message. Something had embittered him enough to publicly persecute our Lord and every Christian who might read it. By now, my resentment had turned into compassion, and I was grateful I had kept quiet and eventually used my grace to pray for him, as Jesus teaches us to do in today’s Gospel, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:44).
God gives to all His creation its food in due season, but in the meantime, we as loving Christians are to pray sincerely for everyone, not only for those we feel affection for. Today, Jesus asks us to be unusual with our love, “If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?” (Matthew 5:47). We’re also reminded by St. Paul in today’s First Reading, that God puts all sorts of people in front of us to test the genuineness of our love by our concern for others.
God loves this angry young man just as much as He loves every Christian and non-Christian in the world. That’s why I’m called to love him too.