1 Kings 21:1-16
Jesus challenges us in the Gospel to "turn the other cheek." He even challenges us with, "Love your enemies."
It is so disappointing to hear Naboth’s wife, Jezebel, set up her husband to be killed by Ahab. Standing or sitting with a heart filled with anger while reading or listening to this incident would be quite a natural reaction.
It is sad to say that we are finding more and more concern for what we today call "bullying." How sad to hear or read about kids being picked on, beaten up, and made fun of. And all of this to give the people who do the bullying a sense of power.
Sense of power? Isn’t it rather a false sense of power? The idea is to pick on the weaker to end up looking great in one area of one’s life. It becomes a cover up for areas that the bully dare not let anybody see.
Love your enemy…the bully? That would allow him/her to remove the mask that covers up that area of their life that they cannot or will not deal with. But that acceptance has to come from within the heart and mind of the bully. Oh, for a friend that will love him/her.
Listen to St.Paul: "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous, but does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act selfishly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hope all things, endures all things; love never fails." (I Cor 13: 4-12)
Honesty and justice has to be present to deal with untruths and injustice. That may have to come sometimes from the law in the form of incarceration. That would be hell on earth as a person now will be watched and prevented from injuring another. Tough stuff to help a tough individual come to the truth. But there is hope, there is a way.
You and I need to pray for our enemies. It can free us to see the whole individual and realize that there are black areas of our lives that we will not allow anybody to see. Black areas can be caused early in our lives and never be dealt with. Many black areas have never had an opportunity to be shared for fear of being taunted and ridiculed.
Love your enemies. The truth will set them free, if they are willing. May the truth begin with me.
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. lives at St. Paul of the Cross Community, Detroit, Michigan.