"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt 5: 44)
We've been reading the Gospel of Matthew to our daughter lately. Chapter 4, in which Jesus fasts for forty days, was Friday night--on Saturday, Kira told her grandma that she was "an hungered" just before dinner and when Grandy asked what she meant, Kira told her the whole Jesus fasting story. I am continually impressed by the spiritual hunger of this five-year-old.
From Saturday through last night, we've worked our way piecemeal through Chapter 5, which is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. It's a little slower going, since there's no action and almost everything is in old metaphors, which take twice the explaining. It's been a good experience, though.
The verse at the beginning of this post came last night in our reading and back to my mind this morning. It came back because, on the Caucajewmexdian blog, I'm in the middle of a long story about feeling a little persecuted and despitefully used by a few administrators at BYU. My interactions with these people are (God willing) over, but I still harbor resentment towards them. If that does not quite make them "enemies," it at least makes them fall under the spirit of Christ's commandment here.
Nearly four years ago, when my troubles with these people started, I would pray for them. But then I got more frustrated with them and decided to stop and do my best to forget them instead--"forgetting," though, is not what Jesus has asked us to do about those who mistreat us.
On the Caucajewmexdian blog, I'm just getting into the part of the story where I keep getting punished for my 2006 disagreement with these administrators even long after I've dropped the issue. And if someone were to ask me, I'll have to admit that I did not pray for my persecutors then and did not again until today. I stuck mostly to resenting them.
Is it easier, sometimes, to try to forget than to pray for--let alone forgive--those who have offended us? Maybe part of the reason these difficulties have resurfaced for me in the past year is to teach me the difference between how to forget (something I'm willing to try--even if it's impossible) and how to forgive (something I have abstract faith in, but still don't entirely understand).
I think one reason we read scriptures instead of simply remembering them (as I often do) is that remembering tends to take you to the places your mind wants to go, whereas reading can be more effective at bringing your mind back to somewhere it does not naturally want to go, but probably ought to be.
I need turn back again, spiritually, toward those who have offended me. I need to keep Christ's commandment.
Instead of an eye for an eye, perhaps the new law invites us to look eye-to-eye at a person we've been harmed by.