Ah! For some, and, perhaps, many of us, today’s Gospel provides challenges as we proceed on life’s journey. In fact, practicing the behaviors that Christ calls us to do are among the most challenging in our lives.
“…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for the person who mistreats you.” Christ continues with other behaviors one should do when physically attacked, when someone steals what is yours and what one’s responses should be. Further, one is not to judge, condemn, and should focus on forgiving and giving.
I write this Daily Reflection as a person who has lived many decades in the United States. And, it is difficult to find daily people examples of the above traits. I wonder if that is true for all of you, globally, reading this. I see pettiness; I see power, control, and authority used to ‘get back’ at others; I hear chortling at others’ misfortunes; I see, hear, and read of frequent judging and condemning of others. And, I live in a country that would be characterized as Christian.
In the August 23, 2012 Omaha World Herald newspaper, an article reported on 52 women and children killed in a Kenya coastal area. A local Parliament member “said the killings were revenge attacks after a string of cattle thefts.” (p. 3 A). This morning, 8-26-12, I listened to radio and television reporting of yesterday’s ‘Bloody Saturday’ in Daraya and Aleppo, Syria, i.e., 440 people killed. The early news reports said it was revenge killing of civilians who had assisted and supported the government rebels. These are two very current examples (this week) of global behaviors opposite to what we are called to practice. For most of us, though, we most likely will not engage in such extreme negative behaviors. However, as noted above, there are many other ways negative behaviors are practiced. We either implement Christ’s admonitions-- or we do not. Each of us knows what the contexts are in our lives and the choices we make.
“love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for the person who mistreats you.” I think the easiest of these to do are the latter two, i.e., blessing those who curse you and praying for such individuals; the most difficult to do is the second one, i.e., to intentionally further, in positive ways, those who have hated, abused, and hurt us.
I will relate two positive stories. First, within the past two weeks, while with a healer health provider, I intentionally incorporated within our time together a spirit of praying for someone who has not treated me in a respectful manner. I might not have done this in the early decades of my life. Second, the Omaha newspaper reported many years ago of a man who was Jewish and had been majorly harassed by a member of the Nebraskan Ku Klux Klan in Lincoln, Nebraska. Time progressed. Years later this same Jewish man physically cared for his harasser in the latter’s illness. To paraphrase the Gospel, this Jewish man had truly, “…loved his enemy and did good to him who hated him…” I analyze it was a newspaper story because of its unique practices--in this culture.
Today’s Gospel Reading calls for serious reflection and quite intentional living. Given some human propensities and lack of daily ‘living people mentoring examples’, we are called to our ‘better selves’ with much intention, discipline, challenge, and fortitude.