The Book of Kings reports the divine punishment that was predicted for Queen Jezebel, for contriving the murder of an innocent man. Elijah declared, “The Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’” On the other hand, King Ahab wins a reprieve of his sentence, for acknowledging his guilt in the matter, and humbly asking God for pardon.
In marked contrast to the abuse of power by Ahab and Jezebel, the Gospel calls on people to seek the spirit of forgiveness. We need to swallow our pride and refrain from judging others. If even such a reprobate as King Ahab came to repent, it shows how hearts can change. The clearest example of loving enemies and praying for persecutors is Jesus himself. St Luke quotes him praying for his executioners, as he was being nailed to the cross (Lk 22:34).
Extra Mile For Forgiveness
Our natural, human tendency is to be generous to people with whom we have personal feelings of warmth and affection. This is natural, but not exceptional. Jesus urges us beyond our comfort zone to show signs of good will to people outside the circle of those we personally like. This teaching will stretch our generosity to the limit.
Christ wants us to show, by our dealings with others, some inkling of God, whose love made the sun to shine for bad people as well as good. And the rain to fall on honest and dishonest alike. This lifestyle option taught by Jesus could only be possible with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives among us and within us.
An Invitation To Let Go
No matter how justified our anger at a wrong done to us, we can ask God to forgive the sinner. How well Shakespeare understood this blend of justice and mercy. When, in the Merchant of Venice the young lawyer, Portia, says:
“The quality of mercy is not strained; It dropped as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blessed him that gives and him that takes… And earthly power doth then show likes God’s When mercy seasons justice.”
This is a fine echo of the ideal. That we seek to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.
[…] so let’s get off our high horses and reach out to that brother or sister who deserves our forgiveness. This could be the beginning of their […]
Sometimes it seems hardest to forgive those who are closest to us because the injury penetrates deeper.