Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leaving Quito

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,1 let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48

I have spent a remarkable week here in Quito, Ecuador, learning with other bishops what it means to do ministry in this place. There has been controversy and turmoil in this diocese and there are several sides in a very public battle. And yet in the midst of all of that we had witnessed an amazing amount of compassion and love, an enormous measure of love and forgiveness. Despite all that the church leadership faces, including lack of funds and vocal factions, we knew a welcome and love that was remarkable, tender and authentic.

Jesus reminded the disciples that as his followers we are expected to love and forgive, despite what people might say or do, despite their attempts to hurt us, take away our livelihoods, or destroy what we have carefully built up. All that we have is from God, and all the controversy and hurt we might face cannot be obliterated by any human action. Our call and our gifts are from God. And God promises to be with us, even when we feel most isolated, bent down and destroyed.

As we travel homeward early this morning, I pray that I might live the example of the people encountered here. May I be ready to love and forgive. May my lips always be ready to pray, and may I always be grateful for the gift of brothers and sisters of faith, companions on the way.


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