See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loving our enemies.



"Treat others the way you would have them treat you."  [Mt. 7: 12]
.
"In Carmel of course, we have no enemies..."  We just have natural antipathies... - or something like that.  I often recall that leading phrase from - if I remember correctly - a chapter on charity in Story of A Soul, written by St. Therese of Lisieux, whenever I catch myself being uncharitable in my thoughts, words, or deeds.  I added the part about natural antipathies - but Therese mentions that underlying factor someplace in her treatise as well.  Oftentimes - in my book - natural antipathies are frequently related to issues of jealousy, envy, resentment, and so on.  If you are like me, you are loathe to admit such vices reside in your heart - but they most likely do if you are human.
.
"From the heart stem evil desires." - [Mt. 15:19]
.
Whenever I come to realize - by the grace of God - that I can be eaten away by these vices, I am devastated; since my entire facade - which is really self-love and self-righteousness masquerading as virtue - starts to crumble before my eyes.  It seems to me these predispositions to sin are among those which Christ referred to when he condemned the Pharisees as being white-washed tombs, filled with dead men's bones.  As a blogger, how often I have found myself, watching a particular public figure, political or religious, sometimes investigating him, searching for some fault or proof of unworthiness for his reputation and popularity; straining the gnat to find the least hint of heresy or scandal.  It isn't that I consciously set out to do it - so I tell myself - and since I've blogged about this or that error in the past, there must be something more to add to the story.  I think some other bloggers may have found themselves in a similar situation - even some who may not like me.  
.
Perhaps we are simply trying to justify our natural antipathy - albeit not recognizing our underlying motivation.  Sin passes itself off as something good, what we mistake for virtue or zeal is at times vice.
.
"Offer no resistance to injury...  Give to the man who begs from you." [Mt. 5: 39,42]
.
Considering these matters, I'm reminded of the Gospel story of the Merciless Official, who was forgiven his debt by his master after pleading with him to be patient with him.  Having been forgiven his entire debt, the official leaves and encounters a servant who owes the official much less than he owed his master.  (Perhaps the official harbored some sort of natural antipathy towards this particular servant?)  The official, assured of his new found innocence, self-righteously condemns the debtor and exacts punishment for his debt...  We all know the rest of the story. 
.
On one level, the story is about forgiveness of course, but I think more deeply, the story demonstrates how easily we can take for granted our own state of grace, forgetting we may have been guilty of greater sins than those we notice - or look for - in our neighbor.  What a scary thing it would be if those past sins of ours were to be exposed and known by all... and though forgiven by God, we are condemned by all who hear of it.  Even more so, what a terrible betrayal of mercy and love when we fail to forgive another, or motivated by natural antipathy, we act like watchmen searching the streets and alley-ways by night, looking for more evidence to condemn the unwary culprit.
.
Art:  This depiction by Domenico Fetti (c. 1620) shows the unforgiving servant choking the other debtor.

8 comments:

  1. I hear you, brother Terry.
    So much to repent of, me thinks (regarding "moi", that is).
    Calling evil, "evil", is one thing; condemning another person or persons is another.
    What a very difficult thing to do in practice...
    failure to forgive is probably one of the worst sins (can be even worse than sexual immorality, sins of the flesh, weaknesses)...that is a sin of malice.
    Being prone to anger, myself, I realize how easy it is to point the finger at "them" rather than repenting of the damage I have done, lots of it sometimes, by my bad example, foul mouth, intemperate actions, laxity and mediocrity (willed, that is).
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. +JMJ+

    Well, I wish I had read this two hours ago . . .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Terry, hope you're okay.
    Prayers, as it may be (sometimes not so great!) from here.
    Love you, brother!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Father - I just got really, really busy and have been offline. I appreciate the prayers - believe me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, but God loves us anyway, even if were not perfect. And I pretty much love you to Terry :) I think you are way cool!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Tara - the feeling is mutual!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous6:09 AM

    Dear Terry,

    This post made me think. Thank you. Yes, I will have a glass of milk with my big slice of humble pie. Have a good day. Sometimes you challenge me to pick up my cross. Thank you.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Katie

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Katie - I'm challenged too.

    ReplyDelete


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.