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Overcome Hate with Love


Today's Gospel lectionary reading is from Matthew 5:38-42. Jesus said...
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. 
These are challenging words to hear or read, especially on the heels of the largest mass shooting in U. S. history. When I heard the news about the shooting in Orlando, Florida yesterday, I was filled with sadness. But such evil also makes us want to strike back somehow, doesn't it?

And yet, that is not Jesus' way. Jesus, here in this passage, and by the example of his non-violent life, invites us to overcome hate with love. I do not know how one does that, especially when evil and hatred touch us directly. People like Corrie ten Boom, who survived one of the Nazi death camps and forgave her persecutors, people like Corrie show us the way.

But it is not easy. In fact, it is impossible to live out the kind of love and forgiveness Jesus talks about without Jesus living in us. We need Jesus to live his love and forgiveness through us. I believe that is the only way to ultimately overcome hate with love.

I found this prayer yesterday on the Church of England web site. Then I adapted it to our immediate situation and shared it on Facebook. Perhaps we can all begin to overcome hate with love through prayer....

Lord of all compassion,
we pray for all of those caught up in the midst of the tragedy in Orlando.
For those who have lost life and those working to save life,
for those who are worried for people they love,
for those who will see their loved ones no longer,
Lord have mercy.
For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding,
for all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil,
for those who cry out to you in fear and in love,
Lord have mercy.
For those in confusion and those in despair,
for those whose tears are yet to dry,
for those in need of your unending love,
Lord have mercy.
In Jesus' name I pray,
Amen.

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