The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. (Psalm 19)
Even the commands that are very difficult to follow, such as the title of this reflection: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge.”
No need to hate. Love everyone. Especially those you hate.
Day after day, the daily news brings us images of war, terrorism and vengeance driven by extremists who believe they are following their god’s will. How does one NOT react with anger, a desire for revenge and a cheer when aerial bombers make them pay for their sins?
Take no revenge? Cherish no grudge?
When you think about it, there probably was a time when that was not such a hard thing to accomplish in one’s heart. Consider that for many of our forefathers, the battles of their time took place in distant lands, in open fields or the banks of a river they may have never actually seen. News of the battles and the atrocities committed by the enemy took days, maybe weeks to travel by courier. Reported first to the leaders of the day, the news would eventually make its way into the ears of the populace.
Time, distance and the weakness of one’s imagination served God’s commands well for many trying to live faithful lives. Even with the advent of the printing press, radio and photography, the impact of tales from the front continued to be delayed and grainy, even to eager ears and eyes.
Television, of course, changed all that. Although coming of age during America’s war with Korea in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the horrors of war began to seep into our living space on a daily basis – and in full color. That probably made the “no revenge, no grudge” command a bit more difficult. But not impossible.
Nothing impossible with God, after all.
Then came 24-hour Cable news.
Then came real-time coverage of Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan.
Then came 9/11, the twin towers, the airplanes turned into weapons.
Then came YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Like never before in the history of mankind, the atrocities of war are just a click away – or posted and shared a million times within minutes.
Terrible, awful, grotesque videos – spread through what we call social media, a platform of communication that is also being used as a propaganda mechanism to beget even more violence.
Seems it is getting more difficult than ever to “take no revenge and cherish no grudge.”
But yet, the God who instructed Moses to teach his people was the same God who came to us as Jesus Christ to teach us the way of love, forgiveness and turning the other cheek. And that same God is reaching out to us today, urging us to rise above the very human and understandable desire to seek revenge and retribution against those who would not think twice about harming us.
Today’s First Reading is clear, as are the teachings of Mother Church.
Perhaps the Gospel provides us with a bit of comfort. Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. Eternal judgment and eternal reward.
In which group shall our souls reside? Pray that we are among the sheep who listen the voice of God and take comfort in his commands. No matter how difficult.
Too bad we can’t see Tweets of salvation.
Hashtag #love … #peace … #heaven.