R. This is a vital question for today.
As believers, we affirm the words of Bishop Desmund Tutu that goodness is stronger than evil, and love is stronger than hate. We also affirm the witness of Jesus and the experience of many faithful people throughout history that love wins when it is true to itself. Jesus was placed on the cross by hate. But even then, he did not return that hate. Rather, he looked on those who killed him, who expressed their hatred through this act, and had only pity on them saying, “Father, forgive them…they do not know what they are doing.”
We replace hate with love when we practice doing that in our own lives. When we love our enemies, those who seem determined to destroy us, and pray for those who persecute us. We replace hate with love when we refuse to return that hatred that is expressed to us and rather respond with the same kindness and care we show to everyone else.
You see this lived out in the teachings and actions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He believed that violence (often the direct expression of hatred) was “immoral.” Dr. King came to this conclusion while looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And because violence was immoral, he could not resort to it. What Dr. King understood is that someone, somewhere must break the vicious cycle of violence in order to, as he put it, “cut off the chain of hate and evil.” This vicious cycle says that if you hit me, I hit you. If you take a life, I take a life. But King saw that Jesus broke this vicious cycle of retaliation when he brought us the law of love. When Jesus stretched out his arms and died for all…even those who had placed him there.
This is what we are called to do. Each of us in our own lives. It is not easy.
It means acting towards others always with their best interest at heart, even when they are seeking your destruction. It means responding with respect and dignity in the face of hatred and abuse.
What you find is that when you do this, when you replace hatred with love, it not only becomes easier for you, but that love often begins to transform those who hate. Not through our own doing, but through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them.
We cannot control others and their actions, but only ourselves. So, we can replace hate with love a little bit at a time when we do so in our own lives.
Let me know if you have further questions by contacting me.