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Forgiveness: just three syllables but the hardest thing to do.



Forgiveness: just three syllables but the hardest thing to do.

“No one is to be called an enemy….You have no enemy except yourself.” [Francis of Assisi]

This week’s Gospel passage from the Sermon on the Mount contains some of Jesus’ hardest sayings. It seems natural to resist an evil person, or someone we believe threatens us. So how can we love our enemies while locking horns with them?

The advice to make friends of our enemies isn’t restricted to Jesus.

Abraham Lincoln said that we destroy enemies by making them friends. Nelson Mandela said that we make peace with enemies by partnering with them. Buddha said it is our own mind, not our enemies, that sends us on the wrong path. Buddha and St. Francis share something in common with that idea.  

When we fail to love our enemies, we allow them to occupy negative space in our minds for which rent hasn’t been paid. Why should we allow that? 

So often we fabricate unfounded conflict, torture ourselves with imaginings, obsessing and worrying about the past or future, neglecting the here and now, and so we become less than whole. Truth is: the now is really all there is – for now.

The Spirit knows all things in a flash – now. Jesus calls us to be whole as our heavenly Father is whole (Matthew 5:48). We can’t be whole unless we are living in the present moment.

To use another image from Matthew (5:45), God’s rain falls on everyone – the righteous and the unrighteous. What makes us think we are so right and others so wrong? Where are we when the rain falls? In the rain there is no ‘us against them’. We are all equally wet.


(Jesus said) 44 ‘But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so 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.’ [Matthew 5:44-45]


Eldan, Bob


Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18    Ritual and Moral Holiness

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. 9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. 11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13 You shall not defraud your neighbour; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning. 14You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling-block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15 You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbour. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbour: I am the Lord. 17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbour, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.


1Corinthians 3:10-17          10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Matthew 5:38-48    Concerning Retaliation

38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so 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. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.