Mr. Green peered over his fence and noticed that the neighbor’s little boy was in his backyard filling in a hole. Curious about what the youngster was up to, Mr. Green asked, “What are you doing, Jimmy?”
Tearfully, little Jimmy replied, “My goldfish died, and I’ve just buried him.”
“That’s an awfully large hole for a goldfish, isn’t it?” Mr. Green said.
Patting down the last bit of earth, little Joey replied, “That’s because he’s in your cat!”
I know how Jimmy feels. When I was eight years old, the week before Easter I walked downtown to the Kress store, and after spending my entire allowance, returned home with five pink baby chicks. Placing them in the large box I had prepared for them with straw, a soft blanket, water and food pellets, I doted on them for hours while I sat on the ground beside their new home, lifting one at a time to cuddle it.
When the phone rang, I ran inside to answer it. Returning to my quintuplets about ten minutes later, I was horrified to find bloody feathers strewn across the yard. Nearby sat a demon-cat with a pink feather dangling from its snarling mouth. In hysterics, I chased that evil feline until it scampered up a tree where, had I gotten my hands on him, it would have been the beneficiary of the same demise as Jimmy’s catch.
My heart was broken, and even though I might have been a tad bit at fault for leaving my babies unprotected, I accepted none of the blame and instead decided to enact revenge on that homicidal cat. I would stalk him just like he did my chicks. By sundown he had won. My mother refused to let me sleep under that tree with the intent of torturing that murderer, and by morning he had skedaddled, never to return.
I was not able to exact revenge. Bummer!
Martin Luther King knew all about the futility of payback. Perhaps that is why he quoted Mahatma Gandhi when he repeated, “The old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” When Jesus said we are to love our enemies, he knew that revenge might be sweet, but its after-taste isn’t. Researchers have found there is additional stress and fear in those who perpetrate a “take justice into my own hands” action, probably because most acts of revenge go beyond the original transgression. One has to look no further than gang wars to see this carried out.
As Christians, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to “turn the other cheek.” In our flesh that might not be impossible, but by relying on God-living-in-us, that type of forgiveness means we no longer feel the need for revenge which is, incidentally, the only way to demonstrate we represent a holiness that sets us apart. In other words, we are not to act in a vengeful way if we are to be Christlike.
I’m just not so sure Jesus included demon cats in that category.