Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Capacity to Harm Others

The Desert Fathers are a wonderful source of inspiration, advice, guidance, and admonition. The following is from Abba Isaiah:

He also said, "When someone wishes to render evil for evil, he can injure his brother's soul even by a single nod of the head." (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward, SLG, p. 70.)

We forget that we can harm others very easily. We forget that harming even those who seem to richly deserve it is wrong. In advice from the priest at my most recent confession, he reminded me that in a situation I had confessed that I had fulfilled justice but that as Christians we are also called to fulfill mercy. The problem is, to quote Clint Eastwood from the movie, Unforgiven, "We all got it comin' to us." The Good News is that if we sincerely seek it, what we will have coming to us is mercy. The bad news is that if we show no mercy, we will receive no mercy:

"...forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (Luke 6:38).

1 comment:

the booklady said...

This has been a difficult one for me as well, Pete, especially when it comes to discussions involving political/current events. I have made many mistakes, had to swallow my pride, apologize for sending out bad information, overreacting, pushing too hard, etc. And, like you, this is a topic I have brought with me to Confession.

The temptation-at least for me-is to retreat to my own safe cave and hide there, letting others do the fighting for me.

You hit the nail on the head here, 'we must not fail to speak of it as a terrible evil. But we must also loudly speak of our desire and hope for the salvation of his soul...'

Ultimately that is God's concern, the salvation of all of His children and we can never forget that He would leave the 99 to go off in search of that 1 who has strayed.