27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
This is easy for Jesus to say…harder for us to do…
Not that Jesus was treated all that well by everyone he came into contact with, but he was JESUS so he had a leg up on us in terms of having patience with difficult people. Unfortunately we are not always as good as Jesus when it comes to those who annoy or anger us…from the stranger who cuts us off in traffic, has a packed shopping cart while in the express lane at 1am, or the nerve to disagree with what we said on Face Book to those who are closer to us: family, friends, co-workers and our ex’s…and even our children (who can certainly get under our skin from time to time).
As Jesus pointed out, if we got along with everyone treating each other with love and compassion would be easy…but Jesus did not come to take the easier, softer way, he came to challenge us and call us to follow him…together.
Jesus often reached out to those who showed him disdain, or were simply not that easy to get along with…and even when turned away he still treated them with compassion…even if that meant walking away.
Sometimes we too have to reach out to those we have problem with…there are times when that comes in the form of just letting go of the resentment, forgiving and just walking away, as you are better off being far apart. However as single parents we have learned that when there are children involved we often cannot just move on, and have to work at letting of our resentments in order to build a new relationship.
When my ex and I split-up there were plenty of reasons for us both to be resentful and hurt…and it would have been easy to simply carry these grudges forever as we could easily justify our anger towards each other!
However, I knew that I would never be able to heal as long as I kept the wounds open…and fortunately many of the people around me knew this too, and they helped me to let it go, and to follow the call of Christ to treat each other with forgiveness and compassion…even my ex-wife! I did not want to let it go at first, as I kind of liked feeling angry and hurt, even found myself reveling in it, as it fed my feelings of ‘poor me’…but justifiable anger is a luxury that I could not afford as I knew that if I lived a life full of bitterness, it would only serve to alienate my ex and hurt the relationship between my daughter and her mother!
It was not easy, but with a lot of help, and a lot of help, I was able to forgive us both…and once amends were made we could begin to build a new relationship based on respect, consideration and the desire we both shared to be the best parents we could be for our daughter (even if we often fell short of this goal) whom we both love more than words can describe!
This reconciliation, while it did not restore our marriage (which had no business being restored) allowed us to be present for our daughter, and on the same page when it came to major decisions, times of crisis, and also helped us to celebrate times of joy with her (like birthdays, or when she got her driver’s license, made it through rehab, and got her GED).
It is this reconciliation and grace that Jesus calls us too in today’s gospel: to love each other in spite of the way we can tend to annoy, anger or even hurt each other. To seek out forgiveness and healing when we may want to keep the wounds open, to show love to those we may find hard to love or even like, to do the next right thing, even if we do not always get the desired results. Being good to each other, by sharing our compassion, forgiveness and faith, is not only a way to follow Christ but it is also a way of being good to ourselves; as a grudge can only wear us down and stop us from moving forward, and in the long run will rob us of many moments of happiness that we could have shared with others…if only we were not so weighed down with resentment.
The words of Jesus in today’s gospel offers freedom from this weight of resentment and
calls upon us to forgive, to let go and to move on…as a well nursed grudge can keep us from moving forward and embracing the true light of God’s love for us…love that is not unlike the love we seek to show to our children: patient, forgiving, everlasting, and given freely as it belongs to all of God’s children!
Let Us Pray
God, thank you for loving and accepting us no matter what; help us to do likewise and let go of our resentments, remembering that where there is reconciliation, there is healing, and where there is healing you are with us. Let us heed your call to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Keeping in mind that when we make amends we are building new relationships (even if that means staying far apart)…and gaining new resources as we continue to raise our children as single parents as it is in letting go of the past that we find a new freedom for the future.