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Posts Tagged ‘revenge’


Matthew 5:43-48: Love for Enemies

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

You have heard that it was said, “Love your friends, hate your enemies.” But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.

This is possibly the most difficult of all Jesus’ teachings to grasp.

For God makes the sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.

This is likely the most puzzling instruction for humans to take in.

Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that!

This is perhaps the toughest schooling we experience when we respond to the Spirit’s call.

And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

This is conceivably the highest barrier, the widest chasm, the deepest gulf we traverse in our journey with Christ.

When we feel hatred rise, we turn to the Spirit. When we sense the burgeoning of our innate desire for revenge, we trust God alone. When we search for the wisdom we need to understand the beauty of these verses, we rely on our brother Jesus to teach us what we must know.


When we compare varying translations of these words, we school ourselves in the exquisitely unique promise and love of Christ. When we experience the love that calls mercy from harm, we experience the promises of Jesus. 

For more posts on the concept of Revenge, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://envisionmediaglobal.com/zion/2017/10/10/love-your-enemies/ and https://www.mickeyellison.com/love-enemies-world-needs-jesus/

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1 Kings 21: Naboth’s Vineyard

Monday, May 21, 2018

Near King Ahab’s palace in Jezreel there was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth.

We know the goodness of the well-tended vineyard. The Master maintains a sturdy wall to protect the vines from those who would plunder the fruit of sun and soil. The crop flourishes under the caring hands of the workers who gather in the harvest in due time. Jesus uses the metaphor of the grapevine to explain to us the nature of our relationship with him; and yet, Jesus also knows the familiar story of how Naboth’s vineyard aroused envy and later fury in those who held power.

John Liston Byam Shaw: Queen Jezebel

One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard; it is close to my palace, and I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will pay you a fair price.”

We hold on to that which we hold dear; we cling to the beliefs that support us as we engage in our work and play.

“I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors,” Naboth replied. “The Lord forbid that I should let you have it!”

My father always advised us that the better we became at our work, the more enemies we would have. He also reminded us that there is a difficult line to walk between minding our own business and speaking up about injustice. My mother advised us to stay away from gossip and squabbles, and always, no matter the circumstance, to “kill your enemies with kindness”. My parents knew that these adages would not keep us safe from the world; but they also knew that in living with Christ, we would survive calamity with the more valuable gift: unity with Christ, transformation, redemption.

The officials and leading citizens of Jezreel did what Jezebel had commanded. They proclaimed a day of fasting, called the people together, and gave Naboth the place of honor. 

The schemes of Ahab, Jezebel, and their powerful friends are insidious; these corrupt leaders strike at the heart of Naboth’s industry; they mock his fidelity, and ignore his goodness. They lure him to the feast only to betray him on the deepest level. When we put aside our negative emotions to read this story with patience, we see Ahab ride to his death in battle. Later, in 2 Kings 9; and we witness Jezebel’s gruesome end. We might be tempted to gloat over these outcomes that feel like divine justice. We may want to join in the chaos of war or the crowd’s frenzy; but rather than seek revenge, we might instead focus on Naboth’s goodness that despite the fact that it has the capacity to bring out the worst in his enemies, it also delivers redemption.

Thomas Matthew Rooke: Naboth Refuses King Ahab his Vineyard

During Eastertide, we heard several times the words Jesus speaks to his followers, words we will want to hear again today as we read about Naboth: If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

Be ready, Dad would say, to find that enemies accompany your successes. Be ready, Mother would remind us, to kill your enemies with kindness. This is our work in the vineyard. No matter the circumstances, we must cling to the vine that sustains us; we must produce good fruit in good time; and we must remain always in Christ who saves, transforms and redeems.


Tomorrow, Jesus is the alpha and the omega.

Compare the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION with others for a better understanding of these verses.

For more reflections on Naboth, Ahab, Jezebel, or vineyard enter the words into the blog search bar and explore.  

How bad was Jezebel? Visit: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/how-bad-was-jezebel/

Images from: https://929chapters.com/2010/03/18/1-kings-21-%E2%80%9Cnaboths-vineyard%E2%80%9D/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezebel and https://thetorah.com/the-story-of-naboths-vineyard-and-the-ancient-winery-in-jezreel/ 

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Esther 8: Bloodshed

Rembrandt: Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

First Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018

Esther 7 concludes abruptly with the hanging of Haman. We have perhaps looked for this outcome, hoping for the justice we desire in our own lives. We suspected that inversion will take place and that the plotter will suffer the fate he planned for others; but these outcomes have not halted the plot to annihilate the Jewish nation. Today we watch as Esther and Mordecai take steps to stop the impending slaughter.

With New Testament thinking, we shrink from the violence of fighting back. Revenge has no place in the Pax Christi kingdom of Jesus where we forgive, and even intervene for our enemies. So it is with sadness that we read this chapter’s closing verse.

In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.

On this first Sunday of Lent, we take time to reflect on the power of egocentric living. Experts tell us that when we acquiesce to narcissists, we give them power; and that the key to escaping one like Haman is to detach, observe, protect ourselves, and plan an escape. Esther and Mordecai stand quietly against injustice; yet they leave their own trail of bloodshed, as we will see tomorrow. Rather than establish peace for all, the envy and narcissism that haunt Esther and Mordecai continue to nurture division, suspicion, and old hatred. They may have escaped the power of the narcissist, but the power of unilateral thinking remains. The murder of the Jewish nation is averted, but slaughter nonetheless takes place.

Tomorrow, our modern Purim.

When we compare translations of this chapter, we look for ways to undo the bloodshed that happens too frequently in our lives. 

For more on the meaning of Pax Christi, visit the February 7, 2018 post by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM at: https://cac.org/children-of-god-2018-02-07/

For more on dealing with narcissists, visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201711/the-catch-22-dealing-narcissist

 

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2 Samuel 14 & 15: Deceit – Part II

Alexandre Cabanel: Thamar

Thursday, November 9, 2017

We see Absalom set himself up as heir to a throne he will not inherit.  We see him strip away all that is holy from his life.  Reading ahead, we see him die a ridiculous death, hanging by his hair from a terebinth tree while one of David’s soldiers runs him through with a spear.  Absalom plots for years to murder his brother for the rape of their sister, Tamar.  Absalom relies on the very human resources of power, looks and cleverness to win for him the vengeful goals he lays out for himself.  It is clear that Absalom does not consult God as he enters into and executes his plans.

Absalom was a prince of a powerful nation.  It was written that: In all of Israel not a man could so be praised for his beauty as Absalom, who was without blemish from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  (14:25)  But what had become of his soul?  How had the events of his childhood so shaped him to produce such anger?  Why were the gifts he had received from a loving God not enough to please him?  What was it that made him always want more?

Upon his return from exile, Absalom falls to the ground at his father’s feet when he is pardoned.  He then stands, and leaves the palace to set his newest grab for power into motion.  He employs deceit to win friends and enemies alike rather than obedience to God as his game plan.  He relies on his influence and charm . . . and for awhile these tools prove a powerful arsenal; but in the end they are not enough.  In the end, Absalom . . . the master deceiver . . . is himself deceived.  He returns from Geshur and continues to weave the labyrinth of his life with chariots, horses and henchmen all the while forgetting that . . . the proper response to pardon is a grateful heart.  Let us learn a lesson from Absalom’s ruin.

For more information about the people and places in this reflection, visit yesterday’s post, Deceit – Part I. 

A Favorite from November 21, 2008.

 

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Psalm 9: The Book of God’s Wonders

Monday, March 6, 2017psalms9_2-31

The MESSAGE version of this psalm speaks to us in our core. Anyone who has been wronged, anyone who has suffered injustice of any kind, anyone who looks for refuge in the storm of life will smile as they read these verses.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.

What are the miracles of our relationship with God will we want to enter into the Book of God’s Wonders?

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame.

We look for the patience to allow God’s plan to blossom and flourish.

God holds the high center, God sees and sets the world’s mess right. God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

We pray for the hope we will need to remember God’s promise of safety, and we pray for the courage to knock at heaven’s door as Jesus tells us we must.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God, tell God’s stories to everyone you meet: How God tracks down killers yet keeps an eye on us, registers every whimper and moan.

We pray for the fortitude to weather the storm, knowing that although the horizon is dark, God navigates our lives.

psalm-9_18Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

We pray for the courage to thank God in public and to share the stories we list in the Book of God’s Wonders.

They’re trapped, those godless, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

We remember to intercede for those who would harm us.

The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless—no more humiliation for the humble.

We ask for mercy for our enemies, and the grace to step away from the temptation to seek revenge.

Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, God! Show them how silly they look.

We ask God to steer us clear of all pretension. We ask that Christ lead us in the ways of the just. And we ask that the Holy Spirit abide in us forever, as we proclaim the wonders God has wrought for us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of this Psalm, we discover that we have a great deal to record in The Book of God’s Wonders, and to share with all the world. 

 

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Leviticus 19:17-18: Loving Others – Part I

Tuesday, November 22, 2016christ-for-muslims

Don’t secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt. Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God. (MSG)

We have spent time with these verses before but we do well to spend a bit of time with again.

Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord. (GNT)

We have reflected before on the importance of loving those who hate and we do well to reflect again.

You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. (NASB)

God says: I know how difficult my Law of Love can be for you, especially when you have enemies who seek to bring about your end. Especially when others envy, hate, persecute and even kill you. There are times in your lives that are too difficult for you and that is fine. Bring me the injustice that plagues you. Bring me the worries that possess you. Bring me your sadness that threatens to destroy you. And bring me any joy you may have found in our journey over the last days – it does not matter how small it is. And if you have no happiness at all, just bring me yourself. I long to heal you. I long to console you. I long to hold you and call you my own. I long to be one with you.

For millennia the Lord has told us how we are to act when our sisters and brothers hate us.

Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won’t carry sin because of him. Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. (CJB)

For millennia to come the Lord will abide, heal and comfort us, his little children. Let us behave each day as though we believe this to be so.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words, we begin to understand that God knows how difficult the human life can be; we begin to recognize just how much we are loved; and we begin to find a way to return the great love we are given to a world waiting for healing.

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Ephesians 4:25-32: A Clean Break

Wednesday, April 20, 2016break-bad-habit

Friends advise us: Just make a clean break. Go cold turkey. Say no. Walk away. These words are easily heard and just as easily ignored for it is so difficult to break away from habits that feel so comfortable and people who are so predictable . . . despite the fact that these people and circumstances bring us pain. We listen – as did the Ephesians – to Paul’s advice. From THE MESSAGE:

No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

We tell ourselves to remain calm, to go with the flow. Paul has other words for us.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life

We convince ourselves that we harm no one if we remain in a dishonest relationship. Paul tells us differently.

Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

We say to one another that our anger is justified. Paul reminds us that there is another way.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

We believe that we are disconnected, abandoned, neglected or forgotten. Paul tells us otherwise.

holy spirit dove in flightDon’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

In the end, Paul tells us, a clean break is better than a rotting connection.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 When we compare this translation with others, we find new meaning in old words.

Tomorrow, God’s shepherding love. 

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Matthew 18:21-35: The Unforgiving Servant, A Reprise

Tuesday, March 1, 2016immaculee02

We continue our journey of Lenten Gospels and today’s Noontime calls us to reprise a story we have heard many times, but may not have taken in. How do we forgive those who do us horrible damage? How do we move beyond our personal pain and fear? How we forgive endlessly and pray for our enemies? How do we allow God to transform harm into goodness? We might listen to the story told by Immaculée Ilibagiza in LEFT TO TELL: DISCOVERING GOD AMIDST THE RWANDAN HOLOCAUST (2006). The January 2012 Noontimes post gives us a great deal to think about.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/17/the-unforgiving-servant/

Visit http.immaculee.com/ to see news interviews and to get a taste of the ideas Immaculée shares with us. 

left to tellAnd we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, the law.

 

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Isaiah 54: Vindication


Isaiah 54: Vindication

Friday, November 27, 2015The-Tent

Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

With this beautiful image of a heart that is willing to expand as it meets its creator, Isaiah asks us to contemplate the enormity, eternity, and healing power of God’s love for us.

From Princeton WordNet at wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn the definition of vindication: 1) the act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure etc.; “friends provided a vindication of his position”, 2) defense: the justification for some act or belief; “he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”.  We read these words and realize that we may not have allowed ourselves to be defended by God when we see those who work against us fail at their unhealthy schemes.  In our effort to wipe any thought of revenge from our minds, we have missed out on the gift of God’s affirming action.  This is something to think about.

We are always hearing words of comfort from our God.  Fear not, you shall not be put to shame.  (Verse 4) In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.  (Verse 14) No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you.  This is the lot of the servant of the Lord.  (Verse 17) 

We pause over verses 7 & 8:  For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back.  In a burst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.  We reflect on how Yahweh is so often described as a jealous God, wanting our full and total dedication to his truth.  We also recall the prophecy of Hosea when he cries in anguish over his wife’s infidelity and lack of respect for herself and others.  We understand the burst of wrath, the hidden face . . . and also the tenderness of true love which endures all things without accepting abuse.

isaiah 54We spend time meditating on verse 10:  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.

God is good. God keeps promises . . . even when we do not.  When we have stood to affirm God’s goodness with full-throated song . . . we must allow ourselves to be vindicated.  For this indication is a hymn of praise to God and his wondrous, awesome power.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 27, 2008.

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