By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE are reminded of this beautiful Christian message in that story of King Saul and David. (cfr. 1 Samuel 24,3-21) The king, out of envy, planned to eliminate David. But David, who had the chance to eliminate the king, changed his mind. And when the king knew about this, he was so moved as to allow David to be his successor as king.
It’s clear that the lesson to be learned from this story is that evil should not be responded to with another evil. To undo evil and to convert the evil doers, the good should be done. The more good done, the better. Obviously, this will require some sacrifice, even a lot of it. But it will all be worthwhile.
We should try to be strong enough not to be so carried away and dominated by anger and hatred as to respond evil with evil when someone does us wrong. Instead, we should try our best to follow what Christ clearly told us:
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Mt 5,43–44) Christ himself lived this indication well, as testified by St. Peter in his First Letter where he says: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (2,23)
We have to be guarded against our strong tendency to follow the law of Talion in our reactions to evil done on us. In this regard, we all need to discipline ourselves when we are offended. We have to make sure that we have good control of our agitated feelings and emotions, and not only should we try to think rationally, but also to see to it that our thoughts and feelings are infused with charity.
Yes, charity should never be cast aside even as we try to pass through the trickiest stage of exacting justice on some persons. Charity is not an optional item. It is a basic, indispensable requirement in our human relations and Christian behavior.
We cannot say that just because we are dealing with a crook, for example, that we can be excused from charity, or that we can feel free to tear that person’s name, if not person himself, to shreds.
Sad to say, this seems to be the prevalent mindset of many people. We really need to dismantle this mentality, because it is not human, much less Christian. It makes us insensitive to the real essence of righteousness and plunges us to a blinding self-righteousness.
We have to learn to be sober, allowing our thinking to be inspired by true love and compassion even as we also have to uphold justice. We need to broaden our perspectives so we can consider many other factors, taking us away from our biases and prejudices, and giving us a fuller picture of the situation.
We should feel uncomfortable when we find ourselves in some rage, and should do all to get out of that state as soon as we can. We have to be magnanimous, quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, focused more on what is constructive rather than dwelling on the distracting and destructive.
We should instead look for ways on how to heal wounds, to bring back those who strayed, to look for the lost, to strengthen the weak, to remedy what is defective in our systems. We have to look forward rather than backward, the future more than the past.