The other

In reflecting on my post “Romans 12” and the comments, which are the most any of my posts have ever generated, I feel the need not to clarify but to further examine more of what and how I think. I am attempting not to scapegoat anyone. In dealing with others especially those not like us it’s fairly common to set up false dichotomies. False because they exist only as ways to justify our own egos. We are all children of one creator. We define that creator differently. Even those of us who claim to follow Jesus define him differently. Jesus came to bring Shalom. One of my Franciscan mentors defines biblical justice as “fidelity to the bonds of a relationship.” Shalom encompasses that description of justice.

Jesus’ message is radical. Forgiving one’s enemies is counter intuitive, counter cultural, counter to anything I react to. I have been a victim and the hurt inflicted on me was real. I went through the process of reaction to the attack. I wanted to retaliate, but my convictions, both the words of Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus rang in my head. Every time I wanted to retaliate I realized that if I did I’d be hitting back. I resented myself, I even attacked myself. The hurt I endured in all this eventually resulted in a pulmonary embolism. I had tried everything I knew to receive this person. I told myself I could forgive but never forget. I learned that as long as I held on to the string of never forgetting I was still holding back from the true forgiveness that Jesus asks. Finally I had to completely forgive and forget. I had to practice Romans 12 literally. The person(s) who had harmed me had to receive gifts from me. In my case it was something tangible. I had to provide water and food for my enemy. I had to embrace my enemy and I had to work and live with this person whom I never thought I could work and live with again.

There are times even now when I’m not sure. There are times even now when the wound seems fresh. Yesterday, when my own mother lay in a hospital and the outcome was in doubt this person came to me and told me that he would ensure that my work was done and that I should leave immediately to be with my mother. Tears welled in my eyes as they have many times in the past year. Those tears are the grace of Jesus Christ and the pain and grace are real, because there are many times just like Peter I have denied him. He is faithful. He has never denied me.

May he give you peace.

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forgiveness, jesus, gandhi, peace

2 Replies to “The other”

  1. Don, this is a beautiful story. Forgiving and forgetting, yes. But our discussion starting point was the recent terorrist plot. You suggested that we should embrace the people wanting to kill us. OK. What would you do if you would be in charge of a country which is under terrorist threat? One must defend the innocents.

  2. What did Jesus say in this regard? He is our model. Read What Jim Forest says in the following article on Peacemakers
    I hope this helps to illustrate the point. What does he say there? Being a Franciscan is tough at times because I want to hit back. I’m human.

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