“A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45).
We can experience hardships, trials, and suffering. We may have experienced traumas, and even come face to face with evil. Yet, we are not evil ourselves because of what happens to us, how we are tempted, nor are we defined by any trauma, suffering, or abuse. We have been created good by a loving God.
Negativity, sin, hate, and evil, can be seductive, can lure us to rationalize and come to make a decision for what we may think of as a good in the moment, yet it is just an apparent good. To encounter or experience a word or act of unkindness, negativity, or even violence, we may feel justified in retaliation, yet if we speak or act in this way we become the negativity or evil we seek to stand up against. In The Strength to Love, a collection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermons he wrote:
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
We need to be aware from the moment we have a thought in our mind as to what we will do with that thought. Many thoughts come from ourselves but others come externally from our experiences, our observations, our concupiscence – our tendency to sin, and yes even demonic influences.
What we listen to, read, and/or watch on a regular basis matters. We need to discipline ourselves so as not to entertain every thought or influence that comes our way. We need to be discerning, otherwise once we allow ourselves to regularly consume negative ideas, especially those that support our fears and anxieties, we will soon begin to speak and act on those ruminations.
As followers of Jesus Christ we need to meditate on the things from above (cf. Colossians 3:1) and aspire in our lives to bear the fruits of the Spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). We need to prune that which is deadening and nourish that which gives life. Examining our conscience with honesty daily will help the pruning process. Seeking God’s strength and support is just the fertilizer that we need.
Each day, with humility, we need to allow the light of God’s truth to shine within our own darkness as well as that darkness that gathers around us. Then we will better be able to commit to rooting out any fear, hatred, and/or dehumanization. With a heart that is filled with the love of the Holy Spirit we can better think, speak, and act in ways that convict, provide healing, understanding, empowerment, and love so to be the good that God created us to be!
Photo: Fr. Ray, a man of God, of goodness and a good friend who will be missed. I am sure JoAnn, along with many, welcomed him home this week.