A Christ-like response to an un-Christ like act
They surround me with hateful words and fight me for no reason. I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them.” –Psalm 109:3-4
Smear campaigns do different things to different people. Very few remain immune to them.
In Psalm 109, David echoes the sentiments of many of us in such situations. He has been unjustly accused, badly treated. There are people trying to destroy him without cause. We know he is deeply troubled, but it is difficult to decipher which of his recorded experiences he is referring to. Some commentators feel it was the time when Nabal was offensive and abusive to him (read about it in I Samuel 25). The psalmist is deeply disturbed, and as we read, we hurt along with him.
If you have been maliciously attacked by someone who has done things to slander you, soil your character, and ruin your reputation, then you know exactly how David felt at that moment. In verses 4 and 5 of the psalm, he has tried to remedy the situation perhaps knowing “a soft answer turns away wrath.” But it has not worked. So he resorts then to bitter anger (you get a shock as he pours out the vitriol). Starting with a request to God to: “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial …” he wishes all kind of evil, tragedies, curses, and misfortunes upon the person maligning him. The hostility is undiluted.
We thought about that scene of long ago as we looked at Pope Francis in a similar situation. Respected as a leader with the heart of Christ, the Holy Father has been applauded for his peace-keeping efforts, welcoming sinners with open arms, and transforming the world with progressive ideologies on migration, climate change, setting free the oppressed, and trying to alleviate poverty. Then came a tsunami of smear and friends, foes, and those in between looked closely to see what his response would be.
However, let us not create confusion by starting the story in the middle.
Let us take you to the beginning – the wee hours of 6 February, 2017, when most people were tucked snugly in their beds in the biting cold. Vandals took to the streets sticking up anti-Pope Francis posters all over the city. Each one contained insults worse than the one before. Such a thing had never happened before. It’s like trying to attack a lion in his den. In the past, there were popes who were criticized and confronted. But never had anyone dared to openly insult a Pope in this manner.
How did Pope Francis respond?
He had not seen the offensive posters but the news of their contents were reported to him. He looked into the eyes of the person telling him about it but did not even flinch. Nor did he try to shrug or smile it away. A news channel (when something like this happens, they reach the spot faster than the breeze!) reported that the Pope received the information with “serenity and detachment.”
He did not waste any more time dwelling on it but went about with the meeting and tasks of the day.
Talk about Christ-like behavior! The next time someone goes out of their way to besmirch your reputation, remember this response of Pope Francis, son of God, and be calm and stay serene.
-NLTCE News Network Team