Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The best revenge

I remember hearing a sermon a long time ago that included a story about Jesus's idea of "revenge." The story was about a soldier who had been mercilessly belittled and mistreated by a superior until he vowed under his breath, "One day you'll be sorry for how you treated me." When they went into battle, the soldier saved his superior's life, telling him, "See, I told you you'd be sorry." It's a retelling of Proverb 25:21-22:

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.

Paul also quotes this Proverb in his letter to the Romans, and adds in verse 12:21:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Today I read an example of this in a Palestinian father, Ismail Khatib, whose son was killed by Israeli soldiers. The 12-year-old boy, Ahmed, had been carrying a toy gun and the soldiers mistook him for a militant. The father's response: revenge. And by that, I mean the Proverbs 25:22 kind of revenge: he had the boy's organs donated to Israelis.

Khatib said the decision to donate Ahmed's organs was rooted in his memories of his brother, who died at age 24 while waiting for a liver transplant, and in his family's desire to help others regardless of their nationality. He said he hoped the gesture would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians. "We're talking about young children. Their religion doesn't make a difference," he said.

I don't know if one such gesture will bring about world peace, but it will make a difference in the lives of the six Israeli children he saved. Will those children and their families think twice about viewing Palestinians as evil? I hope so.

God bless Ismail Khatib for his version of revenge. I hope we all can learn from his example.


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