Many years ago, the outstanding novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote: “Answer bad with good and you will destroy the satisfaction of evil in a wicked person.” These words and the lessons of today’s Gospel raise great doubts, even anger and misunderstanding. How is it? The one who hurts me, the one who causes my tears, is to be loved by me? How is it possible that Christ tells us to borrow and give without waiting for a return? Didn’t Jesus make a mistake in today’s Gospel at times? Or maybe these are beautiful words full of an ideal, but not applicable in a normal life?
When we talk about the love of our enemies, we come closer to the mystery of forgiveness. And who of us has not been hurt by anyone? We faced the dilemma many times: to forgive or to cultivate a grudge in the heart, to still love or hate? Today we are leaning towards the Gospel about the love of our enemies, about forgiveness, and therefore we have to reflect on the essence of this phenomenon. If there is no forgiveness in our lives, no family, marriage, or even an informal relationship will survive. After all, each of us has some flaws, makes mistakes and – whether we like it or not – hurts others, including those closest to us. So let us consider what it means to forgive …
Forgiveness is primarily an enlargement of the heart. A person must forget about himself, make room for uncomfortable people and for those who slandered him, hurt him. To widen your heart is to get out of selfishness, and it’s not that simple. We know very well how many neighbourhood quarrels, marital quarrels, and misunderstandings between parents and children. To forgive means to broaden your heart as Christ did on the cross by praying: “Forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
There is another motive for dealing with the dilemma: to love or hate? Forgiveness is, after all, the payment of a debt to God’s love for man. God forgives each of us repeatedly. How much unrighteousness there is in us that only He and we know! God gives us the grace of forgiveness so that we pass it on to others, also to those who do harm. This is the secret of mercy.
So many make pilgrimages to the world sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, to seek forgiveness. After all, such a sanctuary is another person!
Today we look at the mystery of forgiveness, that is, the love of our enemies. So when we hear the words of Christ once again: “Turn the other cheek,” we should understand that this is not about being naive, about being beaten. It’s about forgiveness! One of the writers wrote bluntly and succinctly: “To forgive is to understand.” Therefore, when we think about the wrongs that have been done to us, about the enemies who hurt us, let us first try to understand them. It may turn out that this man cannot act differently, maybe he is in a trap, maybe he wants to draw attention to himself. Then it will be easier to say, “I forgive you, I am giving you another chance.” And this will be evidence that Jesus’ call has been fulfilled in our lives: “Love your enemies.”