Sometimes I find myself sulkily sitting in my chair, just wasting time thinking over nothing useful. Then a week ago as I continued the tradition, I had an idea to pick up the Bible and see what I’d flip open to. This is what I found:
But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
If you’re like me, you wouldn’t know what chapter and verse and book that was out of and it’s a good thing I looked because it came from the Gospel of St Luke 6:27-36, and the angels couldn’t have pointed me to a better passage at any better time than this. First a story.
Last night myself and two friends did a usual Saturday-night routine, go downtown for some chips and a diet beverage and then drive around to eat away the night. After we came out of the chip shop I noticed walking right alongside my car a young fellow with the same pattern jumper I had on and, curious as I am, I wanted to see the face of the one with such good taste. It was a guy that used to go to school with us, had since dropped out, moved out on his parents and got a flat and lived alone. He was completing his final year at the Sally Ann school and in order to get by was selling spliff and working at a pizza restaurant.
It was three thousand below zero so he asked could he hop in with us and I told him to go for it. Friend 1 wasn’t impressed due to an apparent “troubled history” with the chap and I can understand that. Friend 2 got a kick out of it and didn’t shut up the moment he got in the back seat, which I enjoyed. We drove him where he needed to be and he was grateful to us all, au revoir. I felt terribly bad for him, considering his circumstances and the unreasonable faction of his family that can’t find it in their heart to give a damn about rehabilitating the child – but something Friend 1 said to me I couldn’t get out of my mind. It was in regard to the worth of this former classmate, where he was going in life, how was apparently useless and that Friend 1 was going to “stick to his engineering degree so as to not end up like that.” Friend 1 is usually a gentle, caring person and is easy to point out my flaws – but I was stuck for words when he said that. I literally had to haul the car over and stop for a minute, my heart skipped a beat (the song on the radio was of the same title by the xx). It bothered me greatly how someone could apparently look down on someone who through no fault of their own finds themselves at the bottom of the scale. That’s my job. I’m the one quick to judge, not him, not until now.
The ugliness in my own heart was exposed to me in the form I least expected it. That was my small conversion last night, which leads me to how important that “classic” verse from the scriptures is.
For whatever reason, known only to Him, God had to show me my error in someone else, a mirror of our imperfection. He has done this countless times to countless saints, and in His infinite mercy – the sins of our youth will be washed away as if they never were there. Continuing on with the theme of reflection, the passage demands that we be mirrors of God’s mercy – our Blessed Lord Jesus is our loving King. He has asked us to make the sacrifice of our own pride, tear out our own ego. “He that takes from you your cloak, forbid him not also to take your shirt.” “If a man should strike you on one cheek, turn the other and let him strike it.” These are just paraphrases, but is it so hard to heed these simple motto’s?
“But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
This is SO very important during Lent. God has given us everything as a means to His grace – the Blessed Mother, Our Lady, the image of perfection after whom we must strive to conform our hearts. The saints, the intercessors before Him and our guides in life; our angels each and everyone of us our own – to keep us through the day and night, guard us and watch over us, and furthermore His own Vicar the Holy Father, the Pope. This is the Church: the mystical body. We have a duty – the Church tells us this – to love our neighbour as ourselves, for the strong to protect the weak, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and so on in act of charity. I hope that I will remember this lesson far past and after Easter!