I was sixteen years old. It was Friday night. I was heading out the door with my newly minted drivers license. This was my first night of real freedom without adult supervision.
Before heading out the door my mother gives me a hug, kisses me on cheek, and says, “Be smart.”
My father is in the room and pipes up, “You are giving our son too much credit. Don’t do anything stupid. You know what stupid is. Don’t do it.”
At this point in our lives because of the guidance of our loved ones and our instruction in our faith we have a good idea of what we should and should not do. In the words of my father, we know what stupid is.
This doesn’t mean that we always avoid it, but we know what it is.
Personally, I find this Sunday’s gospel very challenging. It is not about whether or not we do the right things, it is about whether or not we think the right things. It is not saying that we need to simply act justly, but we also need to think loving and caring thoughts about all we encounter.
This is no small task. There are people in our lives who drive us crazy, who do things that inconvenience us, and do things that hurt us.
This Sunday’s gospel is calling us to have loving thoughts about these people. Again, no small task.
The next time you find yourself thinking nasty thoughts about someone or how you want horrible things to happen to someone, stop yourself, take a deep breath, and pray for that person. Oftentimes those who hurt others are the most hurt.
And those who hurt others don’t often have someone praying for them. This doesn’t mean you let someone keep hurting you. This doesn’t mean that they are free from responsibility of their choice.
But it is a way that we can reach out in love to someone who probably really needs it.