“Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”
Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
– Luke 11: 42-46
You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them. When someone hurts us, our initial instinctive response is to hurt them back. We want them to feel the same pain they caused us to feel. We begin to take the painful realities about ourselves, gather them in a potato sack, then throw them back at people, as if it will help us become free again. Life doesn’t work like that. When we are hurting, burdening other people with our same hurt will only worsen the situation. Causing others to be in pain will only increase our own pain.
This is demonstrated frequently in the college setting. After working on a difficult project or taking a challenging exam, or being overwhelmed with homework students naturally lash out at the professors, casting judgements, and blaming struggles on the teachers as if it is all their fault. Lashing out, while instinctive, is irrational and immoral. Revenge is a fleeting emotion. It doesn’t solve anything other than justifying our inappropriate action of causing pain to others. Why do we have the tendency to do this? Because we, in our painful state with a hurting heart, are weak.
How then, can we become strong? By loving. The strongest people are the ones who, when hurt by others, do not hurt others in return. Instead, they love.
It works both ways. When a person causes another person pain or distress, they themselves are hurting. They are lacking in strength. They need love.
The next time we are tempted to cause others to feel the same pain they burdened us with, let’s be reminded of our need to reach out to them with kindness. The next time someone sends you a text with negative words, send them one with positivity and encouragement. The next time someone does you wrong, do them right. You will be rewarded for it. Maybe not on Earth, but certainly in Heaven.
Finally, a prayer:
*In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit*
Loving and comforting God,
Thank You for Your love and goodness. Assist me in reflecting that same love and goodness to the people around me. Lord, You call me to act justly, love mercifully, and to walk humbly before you. Sometimes I succeed and other times I fail. Help me always to do the right thing and stay true to the kind of person you created me to be. If the people in my life throw pain, burdens, and negativity across my path, I want to throw nothing but love back. Help me learn how to love the people who hurt me. Teach me how to pray and to rest in Your presence so that I can hear and know Your will for me. May I never be lacking in righteousness and help me always be know by my integrity and my my love and concern for the burdens and wounds of others. Fill me with the grace and strength that I need to carry out Your will. Amen.