REVENGE! Revenge forms the basic plot for most “guy movies”. The bad guy hurts the girl and that was his big mistake. He should have never messed with Arnold or Clint. Clint says: “Go ahead, make my day!” Arnold says: “I’ll be back!”
Revenge drives a lot of TV shows. An underlying theme is: “Don’t get angry, get even!” Some themes go so far as to say: “Get angry AND get even!”
Today’s Gospel is a tough Gospel, maybe as tough a Gospel as there is. (Luke 6: 27-38). Jesus asks us to go against the most seductive part of our human nature – getting even. It applies to the relatives we won’t talk to, the former spouse we say nasty things about to others and the person at work we bad-mouth because he or she got the promotion we wanted. And that’s just on the home-front. REVENGE!
Then there are the Muslims and the Christians, the Israelites and the Palestinians, the Sunnites and the Sheites. The list goes on and on. REVENGE!
We listen to Jesus teaching and preaching to us today. It is important to note that Jesus practiced what he taught and preached. Jesus both forgave the people who crucified him and even made excuses for them. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) A God Whisper
Jesus puts aside the Mosaic Law of “an eye for an eye” and says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.”
Jesus’ command has disturbed and challenged everyone now for over 2,000 years. Jesus is not asking us to love our enemies with the same love that we have for our family and friends. That love is called eros or philein. He asks us to show an agape love, a love of sincere goodwill and respect.
An agape love is not one of feelings. It is a love that is a decision. Abraham Lincoln was asked why he did not hate his enemies. Lincoln responded: “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”
Love of enemies is not a sign of weakness, but an expression of moral and spiritual strength. Jesus was a good psychologist. Jesus knows we have a deep need to forgive, especially our enemies. Jesus taught that love possesses a healing balm. Revenge and hate make us sick – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. A God Flash
Years ago a widow from another parish came to see me. She was 60 years old and her husband had died of a sudden heart attack when she was 50. He had a successful business. Three days after his funeral the accountants came and told her that the business was insolvent. He had never told her about the financial problems of the business.
She rolled up her sleeves and with help from the bank she worked night and day for 10 years to save the business. Every Sunday she said she left church and her pastor remarked about how wonderful her husband was and how she must dearly miss him. Her kids and everyone else had put him on a pedestal after he died.
When she came to see me, 10 years of anger and bitterness had built up inside of her. She told me that I was the first person she had said a word to about what her husband had left behind for her. She said that she felt she was carrying a rock the size of a bowling ball in side of her. The week before her doctor had told her she had a large malignant tumor in her stomach. I felt so very sorry for this poor woman and followed up with as much support as I could give her.
Hate makes us sick. Love and forgiveness have a healing balm. Jesus knows this so very well. The most difficult words we pray every day are found in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The archaic word “trespass” means to “cross the line”. When we pray the Our Father we are saying that we will forgive those who have “crossed the line” in our lives. We do this so we too might be forgiven for all the times we too have crossed the line. If we refuse to forgive and demand “a tooth for a tooth,“ then we want vengeance more than we want Jesus in our hearts.
The basic question we need to ask ourselves today is: “WHO do I want to be for the rest of my life?” Do you want to be a critical, cynical person who refuses to forget for a minute that so and so who owes you some money, who owes you an apology, who owes you a phone call, or who owes you a dinner invitation?
These are the common places in our lives where we need to muster heroic levels of patience, forgiveness and love for our own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
WHO do you want to be for the rest of your life?