February 27, 2007

Forgiveness and the difference between loving and liking

To love my neighbor as God loves is not a matter of emotionally liking my neighbor. It is a matter of wanting what serves my neighbor's authentic and everlasting welfare-- whether I emotionally like that or not, and whether my neighbor likes that or not.

Jesus on the cross loved the men that crucified him-- in other words, he wanted what would serve their authentic and everlasting welfare. He did not emotionally like them.

On the cross, Jesus displayed the ultimate goal of forgiveness: wanting the sinner to be reconciled with the Father. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

The forgiveness that Jesus wanted his killers to receive did nothing to ease the physical and emotional pains of Jesus. Even though Jesus prayed for his killers to receive forgiveness, the lethal suffering of Jesus did not end.


Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

I tell my students they don't have to like someone, but they must always act lovingly toward them.

For some reason, adolescents consider it to be hypocritical when the emotions are different from the act.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Jeron said...

Well that makes me feel better about not liking the sister whom I love.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Bob, nowadays there may be a lot more thirty-year old adolescents than there used to be.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Bob Farrell said...


Would you be able to relate this post with today's (March 2nd) Gospel reading?

When we are "angry with our brother", is Jesus talking about the emotion of anger or acting on that emotion?

How do we know we are reconciled with our brother if negative emotions still exist with one or both parties? What if we offer reconciliaton and it is not accepted?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The third chapter of the Holy Gospel according to Mark testifies that Jesus himself looked at the hard-hearted "with anger."

Since Jesus himself had anger, we may not say that anger itself as a feeling is wrong.

However, it would be wrong to nurse that anger, to rehearse it, to feed it, as well as to act wrongly when we are angry. Nonetheless, simply feeling the anger is not wrong.

On the cross, Jesus prayed for the reconcilation of his killers. His killers did not repent and stop killing him. No reconciliation at that point.

We can forgive another, but that does mean that reconcilation will definitely take place. Sometimes reconciliation is not desirable or "virtuous."

Take for instance a serial rapist. A victim might forgive him, but not necessarily want the serial rapist to be reconciled or restored to social freedom. Choosing to keep him in prison might be the obligatory means for protecting society.

Bob, you ask, "How do we know we are reconciled with our brother if negative emotions still exist with one or both parties?"

Knowing we are reconciled does not depend on our feelings. We may be reconciled in the form of the behaviors we choose, even though we know our feelings are in conflict with the behaviors we choose. In this situation, three of our faculties present: free will, knowledge, feelings. The question of holiness or virtue lies in the use of our free will, no matter what our feelings might be.

8:57 AM  

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