July 18, 2019 – Tuesday 11th Week in OT
“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Mt 5:44
To hit back when we are hurt can sometimes be our immediate response. Even without thinking, a child may hit a playmate when he or she is hurt. Among us adults, this kind of attitude is also evident, as simple misunderstanding would lead to endless quarrels, lawsuits and even violence. This sounds actually simple and natural yet this has big implications in our relationships. We may ask now, is the attitude of taking revenge a Christian way?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Is it not ridiculous? Our natural response is to hit back thinking that hitting back takes away our pain. Yet, Jesus teaches the other way around, to love our enemies and pray for those who have hurt us.
But, how could we love those who have hurt us, those who have abused us, those who betrayed us and caused so much pain in our life? Our immediate response is to take our sweet revenge. If we cannot express physical violence against them, then, we express it in our words and on how we treat them. But most of all, we linger to hatred, to pain and anger.
Yet, we do not realize that once we let aggression, violence, hatred and anger rule in our hearts and minds, we become prisoners of our own pain. Then, the pain that we endure leads us to feelings of anger, hatred and bitterness. When we linger to these they will lead us to a heart that seeks only revenge. This will be our tendency from our belief that by hurting the person back, our anger and hatred will be satisfied. But then we are wrong because anger and hatred will never be satisfied by violence. Violence will only make us angrier, hateful and bitter. The more we linger to our pain, anger and hate; they become a cycle that never ends.
However, we when find love and forgiveness in our hearts that begins with accepting and embracing those painful experiences and go on with life, then, we will be free. Loving one’s enemies or those whom we hate is an expression of mercy and forgiveness that will make us free. It will not erase the scar of betrayal or abuse or pain that we endure but we will be able to stand up, to wipe our tears, go on with life and transform pain into kindness.
This is what Jesus wants for us. Jesus wants us to be free and not to be prisoners of anger, hatred, bitterness and violence. It is in showing love, kindness and mercy that we actually find peace and reconciliation, justice and freedom
Showing love then, is not about telling the person, that what he/she did was okay and pretend as if nothing happens. No! Love and forgiveness bring healing to our wounded heart that will make us say to the person, “I forgive you not because of who you are but because of who I am” as the Dalai Lama said. It means that I choose to be free and at peace. I choose love and not anger and hatred and I choose God and not evil. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR