A person once came to me for consultation, but before he had spoken about his problem, he began by saying, “Father, I do not think the “Golden Rule” works. I was slightly taken aback but tried not to show any reaction because I did not want to discourage him from continuing with his disclosure. (Incidentally, I have his permission to share his story). I was puzzled, though, because I did not know what he was trying to drive at. He continued by saying, “How can anybody know what I want to be done unto me? Imagine, he continues, if somebody who enjoys getting hurt should follow that rule, then can you imagine how much pain he will inflict on others?” I thought the conversation was getting a little philosophical, so in order to get down to essence, I asked him, “Has anyone hurt you?” It was that question that opened the doors for his real reason to see me. I understood from that conversation that this man did not want to get into any deep discussion with me on the golden rule. He was a man deeply hurt because he suffered what he perceived to be deep rejection. He was rejected by some people he had considered close associates, and he could not understand why.

Many people everyday go about their business or walk around the streets like open wounds. They conceal many of the hurts which they get from people who seemingly do not accept them or their ideas. They walk around flagellating themselves and saying quietly to themselves that they are worthless. Something they believe and which is sometimes reflected in their actions. Why do they think that? They perceive themselves to have been maltreated and rejected. This man explained to me how he tried to apply the Golden Rule with his officemates, and it did not seem to work. They seemed to be giving all his efforts a different meaning. It took a while for me to convince him that his officemates were acting out of a particular bias. They had some prejudice against him. I did not mean for him to leave me after the consultation feeling like a worthless victim, but I meant for him to understand that not all people take good intentions and kind gestures as the giver intends them. If the recipients of such good deeds are coming from a prejudice, nothing and perhaps no one can convince them of the worth of the giver’s ” good deed.” In fact, sometimes, the giver’s very presence can provoke them or make them see their own fault, staring them in the face, and they cannot handle that.

That is why oftentimes you hear the common complaint, “Hindi man lang ako binabati?” (The truth is the one who refuses amicable genuine dialogue has the bigger problem. He carries the weight of his resentment.)

It does sound like strange behavior for Christians. And if Christians were to truly follow the Golden Rule, there is no room for a rejection or snubbing of another Christian deliberately. Nobody who extends his hand in a handshake wants his hand to be completely ignored.

When you feel then that you are completely stuck in a situation where no amount of good work can convince a person who does not understand you to accept you, then it only calls for one thing: FORGIVE. “Forgive” is a word suggesting a letting go, a releasing, an action that has the power to soothe, to heal, to recreate. Of course, you will agree with me that it is easier said than done. Being wronged physically or abused psychologically creates such deep wounds. It seems simply human and normal to demand justice. It seems normal to want to give someone a resounding punch on the face than it is to give the other cheek.

I am not exempt from feeling unjustly treated sometimes. Yet I stop and ask myself why do I think I deserve better treatment than Jesus. He did nothing but heal the sick, feed the hungry, and preach about love, and yet what was the treatment He finally got? Rejection. False accusation. People whom he had cured, dined with, laughed with, and shared many precious moments with, even demanded His crucifixion. I do not think there is a situation more unjust than this one. Where did it come from? It came from a particular way of thinking and being of the Jews—a bias. Only prejudiced minds could have conceived a plan to destroy a man who did nothing but good. God could have wiped out every person on earth then as “sweet revenge” for His Son. But He did not. God’s mercy is boundless. He chose to be merciful. This is what the Golden Rule really is: “Love one another as I have loved you.” God’s love is merciful and forgiving. It is a love that chooses to forget all biases, prejudices, and preconceived ideas about people and events. God’s love takes you as you are now. He forgets your past sins, and to Him, there is no future but the hope that He will be a part of your tomorrow too.

Unbiased, unconditioned love is a love that says, “I can never know what is in a person’s heart when he does or says anything. Only God does. Therefore I will forgive. I will understand; I will accept this person.

The prefix “for” means ahead. I will give ahead. I will forgive. I will give understanding, love, and mercy. If we keep this disposition of soul, perhaps the smile and the warm handshake will not come so far behind.

The question did crop up, “Father are you telling me to be a fake? Lalabas akong plastic diyan.” Point taken. Even if the rule was changed to this: “Do unto others as you truly feel like doing unto others,” you will notice that if you are true to yourself and if you have been making a constant effort to have the mind and heart of Christ, then a punch on the other persons face and all the abuses hurled at that person will not make you feel good. Only a show of love and mercy will.

Jesus Our Light

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