‘Let him curse on if the Lord has told him to. Perhaps the Lord will look on my misery and repay me with good for his curse today.’ 2Sam 16:11,12

What We Crave
Rejection and violence are two things the modern mind seems engineered to resist. We crave all the attention we can get no matter how it comes. We will lower our guard, break our privacy policy, show some skin, use hashtags and follow trends if only we can get a slice of the attention cake. Its sweetness is addictive. No one can deny that. Little wonder the aspiration of every young person today is to be famous. The days of noble vocations appear to be a thing of the past. Today’s reality is that those who matter don’t get the attention they deserve and those who get the attention don’t matter. When those who matter get attention they are in danger of losing their focus. Jesus teaches us how to strike the balance. On the fourth Sunday of the year, Jesus was hailed for his teaching and miracles. We are told that “his reputation rapidly spread everywhere…” (Mk 1:21-28). Today the Gerasenes implored him to leave their territory for curing a demoniac. He was hailed and condemned for doing the same thing. In the same way, you will not always be praised for doing what is right. That is no excuse to stop or to think that you are doing something wrong. Wear compliments and criticisms on your sleeve and not on your heart.
The First Strike
Even when we put up with rejection, many of us still struggle with insults. We cannot stand it when someone points out our flaws, let alone throw stones of insults at us. Words hurt especially if they are true. We don’t want to be reminded we are weak. Shimei son of Gera, called David out for his many sins against the family of Saul and against the house of Israel. David had the power to smite him but he didn’t. Why? Sometimes, not to react when others condemn us justly or unjustly is a greater show of strength. This may sound strange especially if you are raised in a culture of oppression and violence. The average person feels oppressed and frustrated by the political system. You go on working with little to show for it. You do what is right only to be rewarded with evil. You tell the truth and you are made to look like a fool. Everyone looks out for an opportunity to trample you, to overtake you in traffic, to get ahead of you in a queue, to frustrate you with their bad services even when you have to pay for it. When you seek entertainment, some means of relaxation, you are inundated with vulgar and violent content. You mind is simply a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Even when you show mercy, you give people a limit beyond which they must not cross or else they will be crushed.
Other Cheek
In such a culture, it seems fair that you pay others with their coin. You spit in their faces before they do that to you. Even prayer becomes a means of violence. We can down “Holy Ghost fire” on our enemies and pray that they “die by fire”. If seems fair to play the “hard man” and show no signs of weakness; to crush others before they touch you. But the circle of violence will not stop if no one is willing to break it with an act of kindness. By playing the fool, by forgiving the inexcusable, turning the other cheek, by dusting off an insult and smiling at a face mangled by anger, just as David did, we are douching the tension which threatens to consume us all. Experience shows that if you reach deep in yourself to the reservoir of grace which the Holy Spirit affords and pull out a smile, others will smile back at you. Violence does not quench violence; only peace can do that. Darkness cannot neutralise darkness; only the light can do that. Be the light of Christ in the world today and nothing can stop you.
Father, give me the forgiving heart of David and the patient heart of your Son, to love even when it is rejected. Give me your peace all the time.
Today’s Readings
2Sam 15:13,14,30,16:5-13; Ps 3:2-8; Mk 5:1-20