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April 28, 2014

One of the greatest spiritual challenges Christians face is the evildoer, especially the one who is doing evil to me. It's hard to turn a blind eye to these vipers, hard to ignore their provocations.

Yet, if we are to have any peace ourselves and if the world itself is to achieve peace, we at the very least have to pick our battles judiciously. Better still, if we see them within the perspective of eternity, we will realize they are no more than irksome flies, annoying little gnats whose day will soon pass.

Psalm 37 gives some sage advice: "Do not fret because of the wicked; do not envy those who do evil; for they wither quickly like grass and fade like the green of the fields." The psalm says we should trust in the Lord, do good "and wait in patience." The psalmist goes on to speak from experience: "I have seen the wicked triumphant, towering like a cedar of Lebanon. I passed by again; he was gone. I searched; he was nowhere to be found."

You can console yourself with the fact that, even now, when the power of the wicked one appears to be at its zenith, he or she can find no inner peace. How much greater the upset when the power of the wicked collapses.

But don't worry about that. It is not in your interest to see the evil one fall into ruin. Longing for disaster and retribution to befall the unjust soul will only tend to make you like that person. You too will lose your inner peace. Instead, do as Jesus recommended – pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Wish for good things to happen to them.

As well, don't see yourself as a victim. Listen to St. Paul: "The trials that you have had to bear are no more than people normally have. You can trust God not to let you be tried beyond your strength, and with any trial, he will give you a way out of it and the strength to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10.13). Christ in his innocence had to bear the crucifixion; our trials are nothing in comparison.

In commenting on Psalm 37, St. Augustine said, "When you set forth on Christ's road, do not promise yourself success in this world. Hard were the paths he trod, mighty his promises. You must follow. Do not fix your mind so much on the route as upon the goal you are to reach. You will endure temporal hardships but you will arrive at joys everlasting."

Christ called the peacemakers children of God. Those who sow discord and strife are something else. There is no question that we will run up against the wicked again and again in our lives. God gave them to us as a gift, a gift that can help us become more like him. So praise those varmints; try to treat them with patience. Their day soon will be over.