The WORD in Other Words by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD (Australia)
Saturday Week 1 Lent
I was watching a documentary about the conflict in the Middle East and one Jew said, “We are not Christians, we don‘t give the other cheek.”
Some consider being a Christian to be fairly easy because we‘re not obliged to follow a dress code or a diet. But if we follow Jesus‘ commandment to love one‘s enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, then being a Christian is not that easy really.
While a lot of Jews would adhere to the saying “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” a Jewish rabbi said, “If we follow strictly ‘an eye for an eve, a tooth for a tooth we would all end up blind and toothless.” This is where the concept of mercy comes in. We are called to be merciful to people who don‘t deserve it —our enemies or to those who hate us.
Christianity is indeed revolutionary. Two thousand years after Jesus ordained the importance of mercy, we still find it very difficult to follow him. When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34) while hanging on the cross, those who heard this must have thought that Jesus was mad. Yet, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors.
So if we are struggling to forgive those who have hurt us, or if others are continuously hounding us and blocking our sincere efforts to do good to other people, let us ask God for strength to be able to forgive and pray for our persecutors, and hopefully we‘ll have a heartfelt sense of liberation from those who are blocking our happiness with the Lord.