Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”

Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's, if we are always criticizing trivial actions - which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives. --Saint Teresa

Gospel Text: (LK 9:51-56)
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

Understandably, this breach of Middle-eastern hospitality (feed the traveling stranger) was offensive to James and John, who were moved to some feelings of reciprocal hostility: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus, however, will not go along with this reaction to the Samaritan rejection. As Luke reports, “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.” What a great example of Jesus’ modeling his own teaching about responding nonviolently to hostile rejection!

The take-away for us is obvious.

If we consider ourselves disciples of Jesus, when we meet some form of rejection, the first thing to do is not to “get back” with some hostile act of our own but rather to take the effort to consider what is a possible source of the other’s hostility — their own sense of defending their values, their own woundedness, their own prior experience of rejection? That kind of thinking is a way of loving “the enemy.” That takes a little leap of restraint and imagination, but it is exactly what Jesus expects of his followers (see Matthew 5 or Luke 6).

In our extremely tumultuous times, when it seems things can't get much worse, we need a vision of hope. This hope was well stated by Mahatma Gandhi who said, "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

This same hope was also expressed by J.R.R. Tolkein when he said, "All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in."

At times we may be tempted to put up our hands and start throwing punches in the face of the world’s hostility. At that moment the Lord may reply, "It was for this that you were born. I need you to be a beacon of hope for my people. Let my light shine through you. My power will prevail."

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