“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 because of what happens to us, how we are tempted. Neither 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 decide that what we may think of as good in the moment 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 perpetuate 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.”
At the moment we have a thought in our mind, we want to be aware of it and decide what to do with that thought. Many thoughts come from ourselves, others come externally from our experiences, our observations, our concupiscence – our tendency to sin, and yes even some from demonic influences.
What we listen to, read, and/or watch on a regular basis matter. 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, harmful, and unhealthy thoughts we will soon begin to speak and act on them.
May we instead 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.
As we remember those who died on 9/11, twenty years ago today, may we see that seeking revenge and feeding hatred is not the way to honor them. Instead, with humility, we are invited to allow the light of God’s truth to shine within our own darkness so as to better be able to see clearly to root out any pride, prejudice, hatred, and/or tendencies to think and act in any dehumanizing way. With a heart that is filled with the love of the Holy Spirit we can better listen, think, speak, and act in ways that provide healing, understanding, empowerment, reconciliation, and love to make our corner of the world a little bit better than we found it.
Photo: Picking strawberries with Christy in San Diego some years ago now.