“To you who hear I say, ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (v.27)
Do you think it is a function of us not really hearing? What if we embraced Jesus’ words, totally? What if we all decided to live out our lives this way? What would our world look like? If we took a bad deed done to us and transformed it into blessing? What if at some point in our history, humanity agreed to live this way? Do you think we would still have days when our enemies would plot to attack us like 9/11? Maybe we’re praying the wrong prayer or in the wrong way?
Are we still operating out of a notion of “an eye for an eye” sense of fairness? So, we retaliate back, and we are attacked again and so we lose sight of where it all began or where we lost our way. This kind of pattern is repeated over and over in hearts, families, and nations. Might Jesus be asking for someone to hear, to listen, and to break the cycle? Can we swallow our pride enough to ask forgiveness even if our sense of fairness is challenged?
…..for the Most High is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (v.35c). Here, Luke doesn’t say the “good and the bad.” It is always easier to be kind to a good person—that is not really challenging, is it? Although it certainly makes us feel good, it doesn’t take us from where we are and push us beyond our limits or understanding. Our kindness is challenged often in our daily lives by events and people around us. Yet, it is still our invitation to be day by day transformed into Christ—as St. Paul suggests.
Kindness is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are all familiar with the saying, “kindness begins at home”; absolutely it begins at home in my heart, where God resides. If we manage to begin with kindness to ourselves, how might that touch our world, our culture our societies? Often, we are unaware of how unkind we are to ourselves. In fact, it is a challenge! There is no doubt in my mind that evil exists in our world, but it begins in my heart, in the silence, in the shadows, and remains largely unnoticed. And it is always a choice—our choice—my choice—your choice to live kindness every moment. No exceptions.
Did you ever enter a room and feel the tension there? As if an argument had just taken place or some kind of emotional upheaval had transpired. We can often feel that tension. Imagine what our atmosphere would hold if kindness were our posture? Let us be discouraged or divided no more! Let Mercy reign. We can change our own world.
St. Paul suggests just such awareness in our first reading, by asking the “strong” among the group to be mindful of those who may be influenced by our behavior. I am my brother’s gospel, let me bring God’s heart to all.
“Probe me, o god, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
And lead me in the way of old” Psalm 139:23-24
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.