“Freeing ourselves from the ‘imprisonment of the past’ and, with God’s Grace, to live in love and holiness!”
(Based on 1 Sm 26:2, 7-9,12-13, 22-23, 1 Cor 15:45-49 and Lk 6:27-38– 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
A nine year old girl was walking through the fields, a little away from her home, when two persons, appearing to befriend her, asked her to help collect fruits from the forest.
Brought up with the good habit of showing courtesy to elders, the girl hurried to obey.
But soon she realised that it was a trick to kidnap her!
“I saw two persons behind me,” she would recall later…
… “One of them briskly grabbed me with one hand, while the other one pulled out a knife and held it to my side.
He told me, ‘If you cry, you’ll die! Follow us!?’”
After a forced march, the girl was sold as a slave.
The captors gave her a name, in Arabic, which meant (ironically) “The Lucky One!”
Though this title was intended to be a sarcastic one, it came about to express the girl’s approach towards life.
In the coming years, she gladly accepted the name.
After her release, she amazingly, even thanked God for the good that had come, from her suffering.
“If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me,” she wrote, “I would kneel and kiss their hands.
For if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today!”
The name of the girl is St Bakhita – a Saint for those who are “prisoners of the past!”
She was able to heroically display the Christian virtue of forgiveness…
… especially to enemies – those who had persecuted her and had cause irreparable damages to her life!
In life, so often we get “imprisoned by our past!”
This is true especially from the perspective of relationships…
There are many who cause hurts and pains to us
There are many against whom we have causes to hold grudge in the heart
There are many with whom we find it difficult to relate and extremely hard to forgive
The past clings to us in a mighty way…
“Enemies” are, undoubtedly, a reality in most of our lives!
What is our attitude and approach to these “enemies” in our life?
The Gospel of the Day is a bold challenge by Jesus to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6:27)
One of the sayings goes thus, “Divinity cannot be confined to one’s pockets or be contained in one’s purse!”
So vivid is this saying in the life of Jesus, the Fullness of Divinity.
Jesus does not allow to be confined to the tiny pockets of our mind-sets
Jesus does not permit to be limited to the finite purses of our expectations
He goes much beyond…. His teachings reach a new level…
This is what we come across when we challenge ourselves with the words of the Lord:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6: 27)
There are four explicit commands that are given:
- Do Good
All these four exhortations are very often in direct contrast to what we expect or what we wish
- Love your enemies
Our natural tendency towards our “enemies” is that of animosity or grudge or at the best, indifference
But Jesus says to go beyond… Love them!
Love them… in a way, that they are able to experience the Mighty Love that God has for each one of us!
Love them… in a way, that no hateful feelings get sown or nurtured in our hearts and we be free in our minds!
- Do good to those who hate
Our common inclination to those who hate is to say, “Why should I have anything to do with someone who is least interested in me and only keeps hurting me?”
But Jesus says to go beyond – Do good to them!
Do good to them… in a way, that our good actions – little or big, seen or unseen – become actions that evoke repentance and contrition!
Do good to them… in a way, that gestures of charity is a way to crush our own ego and pride feelings and makes us to be humbler, in imitation of Christ who totally humbled Himself!
- Bless those who curse you
Our first instinct to those who curse us to “give back still strongly” in return and wish the worst for the concerned person.
But Jesus says to go beyond – Bless them!
Bless them… in a way, that our holy wishes may move the heart of the one who offends us and we become a channel and active instrument to allow God’s forgiveness to flow
Bless them… in a way, that our words of grace may heal the vibrations of negativity and hatred and evokes the mighty power of God against the dark forces of Satan
- Pray for those who abuse you
Our immediate reaction to those who abuse is to abuse in return or to let out a volley of unfit phrases or violent actions and gestures
But Jesus says to go beyond – Pray for them!
Pray for them… in a way, that the grace of God’s mercy and compassion may descend into the relationship
Pray for them… in a way, that the words of abuse may fizzle out in the blazing power of prayer and holiness
David, in the Old Testament, goes beyond the lures of the people around, and refuses to take revenge on Saul – even though he had the possibility to terminate his life
He chose to “not get imprisoned by the past” and instead, gave priority to the Lord and His Will, by recognising the ‘Grace of Anointing bestowed on Saul’ (Cf. 1 Sam 26:8-9)
Life constantly seeks to “imprison us in our past”
But God’s Grace coupled with our willingness to co-operate with His grace, will allow us to “live in love and holiness”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN DEATH
The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death.
In the litany of the saints, we pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”;
We ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary
We are called to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.
Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out.
“Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience…
… Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow!”
“Praised are you, my Lord, for our sister bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape.
Woe on those who will die in mortal sin! Blessed are they who will be found in your most holy will, for the second death will not harm them!” (CCC # 1014)