From the Desk of Fr. Tom…
Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
What do you think about the about Jesus’ teachings today; is it too much? We have heard Jesus teaching: “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well”. “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father”.
How do we respond to hurts and offenses? Jesus asks us to forgive. Is it practical and logical in our time? Instead of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” forgiving others is practical and logical because if someone plucks out an eye in revenge, that does not solve a problem, but increases it. Then there are two people without eyes. Plucking out a tooth in revenge does not solve a problem but makes it bigger. Then there are two people without teeth. Jesus continues by teaching us whom to love. Instead of loving only those whom we like or who love us, Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. What do you think about that; is it practical and logical? I think this is good psychology, as praying for those who hurt us, frees us and gives us peace. Then Jesus says something that may even frighten us. By following his advice, we will become sons of our Father in heaven which means if we do not act like this we will not be true sons or daughters of our heavenly Father. Is there anything that can help us to forgive those who have hurt us? These are some suggestions that I offer to people from time to time. Forgiveness is a decision not an emotion. Hopefully our emotions will follow our decision to forgive; but first, we must decide to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean blotting out painful memories, but it means not acting out on them. That is why when the hurt is deep, therapy may be necessary to free us from acting out of our past negative experiences.
When people have difficulty forgiving a hurt I sometimes say to people to repeat to themselves, “I will not allow that person to control my life. I take back control of my life from that person. From now on I will control my life”. Another thought that can help us to forgive is to remember that Jesus died to save the other person just as he died to save you. Try to visualize the person beneath Jesus on the cross. Can you see Jesus dying for that person? Sometimes people say they will forgive if the other person makes an apology. I think that is in some way connected with wanting to control the other person. Forgiving somebody involves giving up the need for an apology and the need to control or dominate the person who hurt us. Surrendering the need to expect them to ask forgiveness frees us to forgive them.
I will conclude with this story. Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument; and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.” They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.” The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The friend replied “when someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
God Bless You,