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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Drowning evil with good, hatred with love

THAT’S how things should be. Instead of responding to evil with evil, hatred with hatred, we should rather respond to evil with good, hatred with love. That way we turn things around, rather than plunge into the spiral of evil and hatred.
This was specifically articulated by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans where he said: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Rom 12,17-20)
We have to try our best to erase whatever disbelief, doubt or skepticism we can have as we consider this teaching, since most likely, our first and spontaneous reaction to it would precisely be those reactions. We can ask, even if done only interiorly, “Is Christ really serious about this? Can this thing that Christ and St. Paul are telling us, possible, doable?”
With God’s grace and our effort, let us learn to live with unavoidable evil in this world.     “Let them grow together until harvest.” That was the answer of the master in one of the parables about the kingdom of heaven. (cfr Mt 13,24-43) He was telling the servants to let the weeds sown by his enemy to grow together with the wheat. Pulling the weed out now would just endanger the wheat, he reasoned out.
This parable is an image of how our life now, with all its good and bad elements, is already the beginning of the kingdom of heaven. We have to learn how to live in this condition, where evil is unavoidable, without getting confused and lost.
The parable can tell us many things. For one, it seems to tell us that we should be patient and tolerant of everybody, especially of those who are clearly in error and are causing us some trouble. In spite of how they are, they are still our brothers and sisters, all children of God who have strayed from the right path and are in need of help actually.
Remember the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was cruelly sold by his own brothers but ended up becoming a leading man in Egypt. (Gen 37 ff). When that dramatic moment came when he revealed himself to his brothers, with magnanimity he forgave them and promised to support them.
“You meant evil against me,” he told his brothers, “but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” (Gen 50,20)
By being God-like, we can turn evil things into something that is good for all. We should try our best not to be dominated and scandalized by evil. In another parable, Christ mentioned that the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened. (Mt 13,33)
With this parable he tells very clearly that a little act of goodness can have a tremendous leavening power to turn something flat into something filled with goodness. We should just focus on doing good, even if the circumstances around are unfavorable or even hostile.

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