'An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind'

'An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind'

By Fr Robin Gibbons/ indcatholicnews.com

I love this quote from the Lebanese Maronite mystic and poet Kahil Gibran: “An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind”, for it sums up in one pithy sentence a lot of what we struggle with in Christian life.

On the one hand there is a natural tendency to fight for oneself and those we love, to try and sort out the messes that we and others make on life’s journey, put things right, but on the other there is a punitive aspect to our view on life, what we don’t like we want out of the way, people we actively dislike or who seem to us to be evil and do terrible things we want justly punished.

I suspect we would all like a proper Hollywood ending to problems if we could, where truthful right trumps over evil might, but the teachings of Jesus continually upend this, as they do so many others of our cherished ideas.

Take forgiveness; do you and I know exactly what true forgiveness is? Have we ever freely given it, at a cost to ourselves, or have we ever received it? I struggle with this, many of the darkest deeds the human family does to fellow human beings and living things, or the natural earth, are revolting in their cruelty. You have only to trawl through Facebook to see the agonizing requests to help end this or that cruelty to people, animals, nature itself, by joining and supporting groups.

People are good at pushing uncomfortable truths out of their immediate vision, we tend to forget when things are not in front of us, turn away in order not to be disturbed. Yet God is a God of disturbance, of unsettling movement in our hearts, but not for any punishment, rather it’s a shaking up of each one of us from our laziness and lack of openness. As Gibran also wrote: ”We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.”

That’s why Jesus teaching on forgiving others endlessly is so important. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered: "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt 18:21-22). If we take time just to look at how many times we actually forgive and then let the issue go, can we say that even seven times is our goal? I think not! Yet we have to, there is no way out, we must deal with the issues, face them truthfully but then have to forgive and forgive and forgive. It is not up to us to pass judgement, but to offer God’s mercy and in our turn to receive it. You see, refusal to forgive and be forgiven makes it impossible for us to enter the compassionate love of God!

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 10:14
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