Love vs Hate

Radio and television constantly confront us with shocking news. Just recently we heard in close succession about the killing of forty-nine people in Orlando and the murder of an MP in Yorkshire. These were hate crimes. Hatred has a blinding force. For someone to be so convinced that they are right that they would kill another is to claim a power that does not belong to them.
St Paul in his Letter to the Romans says: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.’ He also says: ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’. It is easy to say this, but extremely hard to do. Christianity preaches a doctrine which goes against our natural instincts.
The killings in Orlando and Yorkshire were not heroic. The very act of killing showed fear and hatred, a failure of reason, an obsession. The killers chose to kill rather than talk, testifying to personal prejudice rather than asserting the truth.
In contrast, in St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians we read his famous statement on love. ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always, perseveres.’ Each phrase merits careful consideration.
Clearly this is an ideal. But it exists for our imitation and guidance. Jesus told us that we can judge a tree by its fruits, but we cannot pick figs from thistles, or grapes from briers. It is from the mouth that the heart speaks, allowing the good person to produce praiseworthy thoughts and deeds from a generous heart. The evil person, on the contrary, creates wicked deeds from a mind that relentlessly ponders hatred. Clearly, our mind-set inspires our human actions.
MPs of all political parties praised Jo Cox for the respect she accorded to every person in the world. She showed this by her concern and love for people locally and globally. Her killing was an attack on our freedom, liberty and values.
We are asked to show respect to all persons, not just those that we agree with. Pope Francis has said: ‘we must have the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts’. We must dedicate ourselves to uprooting prejudice and hostility and replacing it with tolerance, respect and our support for all peoples in need.
John Cairns, King’s Lynn Catholic Church.

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