Anthony Zaccaria: Tolerance and Gentleness

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Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary :“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21

“We should love and feel compassion for those who oppose us, rather than abhor and despise them, since they harm themselves and do us good, and adorn us with crown of everlasting glory while they incite God’s anger against themselves. And even more than this, we should pray for them and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by goodness. We should heap good works like red-hot coals of burning love upon their heads, as our Apostle urges us to do. So that, when they become aware of our tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart and be prompted to turn in love to God.”

Anthony Zaccaria (1502-1539) in Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings, ed. Bert Ghezzi (New York: Image, 2000) 54.

This saint teaches us how to show compassion to enemies. This is not an easy task, not for the weak or faint of heart. Think about it. Love is the antidote for winning the lost. Once they become aware that we are willing to bear their sins with “tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart” and turn to God.

The most generous thing we can do for our enemies is love them by bearing their sins with “tolerance and gentleness” so that we, in turn, are not overcome by them but overcome them with good. If there are evildoers around you, make the intentional decision today to love them and pray that your “tolerance and gentleness” becomes the tool by which God transforms their hearts and lives.