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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38–48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NRSV)

In a specially convened 9/11 remembrance service held at Washington’s National Cathedral on September 14, 2001, those gathered were invited to “also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, that despite our grief we may not become the evil we deplore.”

The danger of evil is that when it grips us, it also tends to control us. When we are attacked, wounded, and abused, we may find ourselves operating out of the scars that have grown. We hold in bitterness and hate because we have been objects of bitterness and hate. But Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount— turn, give, go, pray for, love, and greet, words that were radical in Jesus’ day and are still radical now—are a new way, a different way, a way toward true healing. The Apostle Paul says it beautifully, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Friends, the hard work of being a Christian is forgiving ourselves and forgiving those around us. (This does not mean we ignore justice; please do not hear what I am not saying). The healing path toward empathy, compassion, and genuine love is the ceasing of hate and evil’s control within us and instead allowing the peace of Christ to rule in us.

Loving God, please do not let me become the evil that I deplore. Please, by your Holy Spirit, show me a new way, the way of forgiveness and love. Amen.

Written by Daniel Holladay, Senior High Youth Coordinator

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