Burning Coals: Overcome Evil with Good

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Photo of a flame from a small campfire against a black and white background with the quote: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans 12:20-21 (RSVCE)
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If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans 12:20-21 (RSVCE)

Original piece by Val Vesa on Unsplash.

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Reflection

A sin I presently battle with is the desire for vengeance and fighting evil with evil. The demons in me grumble and ruminate on the injustice others inflict upon me, and in weakness I let them rant.

These evil spiritual forces are stronger than me, and yet weaker than the heavenly spiritual forces. In these moments I pray for help, and one time I heard God’s wisdom that I need to pray for those who have hurt me, that they may rise out of their own weaknesses. Praying for them has also begun to shift my heart from inward feelings of betrayal to outward feelings of unbridled empathy.

The message was clear: pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for whoever wronged me. Doing this has instantly silences the evil chatter and resentment. I’ve found it impossible to feel resentment and say a prayer simultaneously.

It also is a reminder of who our real enemy is (emphasis added):

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.—Eph 6:10-12 (RSVCE)

“Flesh and blood [is] a Semitic idiom for what is merely human (Mt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50). Principalities [and] powers [and] rulers [refer to] ranks of demonic spirits opposed to the Church.”—Curtis Mitch and Scott Hahn, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Equip your heart and mind with the wisdom of who the real enemy is. It is not your brother or sister, made in the image and likeness of God, who in the moment may be ruffling your righteous feathers. Rather, it is the evil within them, the same evil that lies within you and I. It is the devil who knots heartstrings with his manipulative, rotting fingers. It is the devil who confounds the intellect by forming pompous conclusions that truly collapse upon themselves with their own idiocy. The devil knows this and so hides these fallacies in the darkness of his ugly shadow, enslaving the spiritually gullible.

Let us turn the tables on Satan by doing the unexpected and killing him with burning kindness, which heals your soul and the one who has wronged you:

“Heaping coals of kindness on one who has wronged you can cure him of vices, burn away his malice, and move him to repentance”—St. Jerome, Homilies on the Psalms 41

 

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