Self-punishment Vs Self-healing

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 29-08-2011

“You have only one person to forgive in your
journey and that is yourself. You are the judge. You are the jury. And you are
the prisoner. An unholy trinity, to be sure! Loosen up, my friend. Everything
you think you did to others is just a form of self-punishment.”

(Paul Ferrini, Love Without Conditions, page
142) 

            Being
social beings, it's very much possible that the words, actions and attitudes of
others hurt us. They inflict deep wounds which cry out for revenge. Our natural
tendency is to get even with the people who hurt us so that we enjoy a kind of
momentary victory through which the wounds we suffered seem to disappear.
 Thus we knowingly or unknowingly employ our own attitudes, words and
actions to punish the person who attempted to hurt us.

However, does it really work? Can any revengeful
attitude, word or action make us feel better and enjoy peace? It's a proven
fact that our revengeful attitude can only hurt us more and make us feel more
miserable. It takes away our peace of mind, lessens our capacity to rest, relax
and interact with others, and badly affects our emotional, mental and bodily
health. It, in effect is a self punishment. If we, on the contrary, take the
less trodden path of forgiveness and reconciliation, the consequence is peace, serenity
and joy.  This, contrary to popular understanding, is not a route to
defeat, but to real victory. It's the defeat of evil with good, passion with
reason, division with love.

            While
our natural tendency is to take all out revenge, we have stories of people who
daily, practice the virtue of forgiveness in their homes, in their work places,
in schools and colleges, play grounds, organizations, etc. All of these are
unsung but heroic acts of victory over evil and healing of divisions. But some
such acts stand out as beacons for others to see and follow. Gladys Staines
chose the path of forgiveness and so she emerged victorious against the evil of
bigotry. Blessed John Paul II went to the prison cell and held the hands of his
own attempted murderer and thereby defeated revenge. Jesus Christ unleashed his
forgiving love from the cross and prayed: “Father forgive them, for they know
not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

About The Author

Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP

Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP is a Catholic priest of the Society of St Paul. He has been engaged in media activities for several years as General Editor of ST PAULS Mumbai. He believes in God's gift of beauty and goodness in every human being, in nature and in every religious tradition, and shares his views and opinions with others.