How Many Times?

13 Aug

“It is possible to continue turning the other cheek when one has stopped counting.” Matshona Dhliwayo

I do believe we all know the story well.  Jesus had just finished a discourse which included the need to forgive.  Peter came up to Jesus and asked Him how many times he needed to forgive his brother.  “Seven times?” was Peter’s question, which meant an infinite number of times.  Jesus responded with “No, not seven times but seventy times seven times.”  The message was clear to Peter and the others:  it was going to be tough to be a follower of Jesus.

Jesus also told His followers at another point in the Gospels that, if someone struck them on one cheek, to turn and offer the other as well.  This truly goes against our human nature.  When we are struck, our human nature wants to lash out and strike back.  The last thing we want to do is turn the other cheek.  It gets to the point where we ask the question, “How many more times do I need to do this in order to make God happy?”

This discussion is very relevant to me at this point in time.  Some of you who receive these Daily Reflections have also heard from “me” these past couple of days as my name has been used in text messages once again asking for financial aid.  The messages are generic enough that some people might easily fall for them — though I would hope no one would do so simply given the awful grammar that the message uses!  That should be proof enough that the sender is not really me.  I would hope that no one sends gift cards to someone pretending to be me.

Of course, the human me wants retribution.  The human me wants to find the person or persons perpetrating this fraud and see those responsible arrested.  The human me wants to see these kinds of things happen to the perpetrator.  The human me wants a lot of things that the spiritual me looks at with shock and amazement as I lecture myself and say, “Turn the other cheek.  Pray for the perpetrator.  Practice forgiveness.”

Let’s be really clear here:  I hate having the opportunity to practice what I preach!

That really is the gist of it, though, isn’t it?  We all talk the talk really well.  However, when it comes to walking the walk, we often balk.  We wait for someone else to do it first.  We look for excuses that might let us off the hook.

This is real stuff here.  No one gets left off the hook.  Everybody is expected to toe the line.  All of us are called to forgive, to turn the other cheek, and to love.  Yes, love even the sinner.  The daily quote’s advice is sage indeed.  The sooner that we quit counting, the more we can focus on the positive in our lives than lock ourselves in on the negative.

FAITH ACTION:  Ask God for the grace to forgive and the courage to turn the other cheek.