Fruits of Forgiveness

Feb. 16, 2008

Readings: Deut 26:16-19; Mt 5:43-48

"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." Mt 5:44-45

Good military tacticians will tell you, "Take the high ground." And of course the advantages are obvious. Atop a hill, you can monitor the movements of your enemies and weaken their ability to strike. But when Jesus exhorts us to follow a similar spiritual path - to take the high ground and "love our enemies" - where is the soundness of such advice? Wouldn't the high ground leave us vulnerable and exposed to injury?

Upon closer reflection, it's clear what the advantages are. We know fear and hatred fog the intellect and obscure the heart. We know they separate us from God and breed anger and violence. In fear and hatred, we deny the sanctity of life itself. When Paul talks about taking up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:17), he means that we are to arm ourselves with the word of God. Rather than strike out against our enemies, we are called to stand firm in our faith and to protect the life of our spirit.

But how are we expected to love those who may cause us harm? Follow God's example. He sent His Son to die for all, even those who treated Him badly. Jesus didn't show anger when He was insulted. Rather, He blessed those who cursed Him. He didn't reject Judas who betrayed Him, but called him "friend" (Mt 26:50). On the Cross, He did not wish violence against His killers, but forgave them their sins.

Conform to the image of Christ and pray for those who seek you harm. Be love itself. All is possible in God. In loving our enemies, we bear witness to the challenge Jesus set out to show us - namely, that forgiveness is mightier than resentment and that love is mightier than hatred.

Dear God, make me a loving soul who sees the futility of hatred. May I act in unity with Your merciful love by banishing all resentment, jealousy, and vindictiveness from my heart. Amen.

Scripture
Prov 15:1;
25:21,22
Lk 23:34
Acts 7:60

Catechism
2838-45

Diary of St. Faustina
1175, 1768

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