Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Can You Love those who Hate You ?

Perhaps one of the greatest teachings of Jesus Christ is his teaching about the importance of learning and practising to remove all kinds of hatreds from our minds.

Hardly any one would be there who has not heard of this. Yet it is the most difficult advice most people find to adopt in practice.

For those are still apprehensive about what Jesus had said, I would like to reproduce below the verses from the gospels:

In Luke 6:27 we read like this : "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you."

Jesus is quoted as this in Matthew 5:44 : But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"

Further we read like this in Luke 6:35 : "Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked."

Jesus further instructed like this as written in the Bible in Mark 11:25 : "But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too."

I do not want to quote all those verses from the Bible on this.

For most people, Christians included, these are perhaps the most impractical advice of Jesus Christ. 

How can you forgive and love those who have done misdeeds on you ? How can we forget and forgive those who keep working against us and hate us?

For us the Bible verses from the Old Testament appears appealing. In  Deuteronomy 19:21 we are instructed by God like this : "You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

So even if Jesus might have given us the New Law later, we prefer to cling to the Old Law of the Bible !

Here at least, we prefer to disagree with Jesus Christ ! After all Jesus was our sacrificial lamb. That he did and we are very thankful to him. He died for our sins ! Let him not teach us those impractical things. If we do not take revenge on our enemies and those who keep working against us what is left in this life ? What pleasure if our revengeful mind cannot be satisfied ?

We do not wish to be rewarded in Heaven later. What matters most to us is what is there in this life here at this moment.

All other things may be good for the preachers to preach ! Of course we love to hear those preachings also, if it works as a penance all the good !

But Jesus' preaching on this was very categorical and precise. My favorite the Urantia Book describes what Jesus told on this a bit more elaborate in UB 140:3.15 onwards.

I have personally experienced the power of practising this great advice that Jesus gave to mankind.

The moment you forgive your enemies or those who are unkind and hateful or wrong doers to you and keep no grudge or hatred or thoughts of revenge on them, practically you become more powerful. I think it is a great providential blessing. We can realize it and I tell you I have realized it.

Before I conclude this blog here, let me briefly narrate an incidence which happened some time ago which pinched my consciousness, though it never concerned me directly any way.

It mattered to me because it was an incidence involving the family of a priest belonging to the denomination of the Indian Church to which I am a member. Again at the time of this incidence, this priest was the vicar of my home parish.

He had a daughter who worked in a Persian Gulf country where the Muslim law based on the principle of the 'eye for an eye' prevailed.

Most unfortunately, this lady was murdered by an young man who was a subordinate to her in her office, perhaps out of some animosity this young man developed on his superior bossy lady. He became more furious perhaps due to the fact that this young lady belonged to the same community to which he was also a part. Besides, both were working in a foreign country and the lady apparently did not show any consideration to him on these grounds.
So one day this young man planned to settle scores with her and he killed her- an young mother and wife from his own community. Both Indian Christians working in a Muslim country.

Soon he was arrested, jailed and sentenced to be put to death by the firing squad according to that country's laws.

The Muslim Sharia based law of that country had a provision for the sentenced person to be pardoned from such harsh punishments if the immediate relative or family member is willing to give pardon to him.

Now all the attention shifted to the young Keralite man who belonged to a prominent Christian community who was going to be executed brutally by the firing squad of a foreign country.

But there was a small ray of hope for him. That was the fact that he could be pardoned by the victim's family. The victim was daughter of a Christian priest who preached Jesus Christ and sermoned about the importance of forgiving those who did wrongs ! And the accused also belonged to the same community !

I remember those days when I eagerly watched to know the fate of this young man. Not only me, thousands in my community all over the world watched and waited anxiously.

Though we all felt sorry for the young woman and her family, the thought of brutal punishment on the young man was more repulsive to many. So many wished that this Christian priest would be able to practise what he preached all his life time and would extend the most needed pardon on this young man and save his life.

Regrettably that did not happen and the young man was shortly punished with bullets !

For days I was feeling too bad. This has been haunting me.

The 'Christian priest' could have set an example just as the widow of the Australian Missionary Graham Stains, who pardoned her husband's murderers.

The Christian community leaders from my state all kept themselves silent and it was such an incident that they failed courage to discuss.

I haven't heard much about the pleasure of revenge that the priest gained later, except that he resigned from his priesthood and his life became something filled with further sorrows and agonies.

We can discuss about this incident and argue much on both sides.

But what I wanted to stress is this. However hard it is to forgive those who do wrongs on you, the rewards of such a forgiveness is indeed much more satisfying than the pleasure of revenge !

Would it be possible for us to realize this ?

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