TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
16 October 2016
C.H. Dodd, a biblical scholar, once said:
“The distance traveled from the slaughter of one’s enemies in the name of God,
to Jesus’ teaching to love one’s enemies is a measure of how far the Christian journey should take us.”
Wouldn’t you think, from the time of Moses in the desert lifting up his arms and Joshua mowing down
Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword, to this Christian era,
we should have somehow advanced beyond the sword.
We should have taken the words of Jesus to heart as a civilization.
There should be no more war anymore.
That hasn’t happened.
Shortly after 9/11 a noted columnist wrote that we should deal with terrorists in the following way:
1. We should recognize that they are actually waging war on us.
2. To kill them won’t work; they have already vowed to give up their lives.
3. Therefore he proposed that we take the lives of their friends, supporters, relatives; 50 to 1.
He then concludes: “We could not expect, of course that such a strategy would meet
with the approval of the pope or any other moral leaders.”
It seems as a civilization we are bound to be just as brutal as any other era in history.
We have not advanced, we have only become more sophisticated.
The reason is probably rooted in each of us as persons.
Each of us is also called to make that journey from hating one’s enemies to loving them.
Any one of us who has tried that knows what a long journey that is.
All sorts of practical things get in the way.
We wind up being mowed down.
Our enemies win, either by defaming our characters, stealing our goods, even killing us.
All of us are taught from early on that it’s awful to be a loser.
So, I feel caught in a real bind. Do you?
When push comes to shove, we are caught between making the long journey
from hate to love; and living in a world which never wants us to, never allows us to make that journey.
What do we do?
Jesus died, brutally, unjustly,
and it is more than likely that if we make the long journey from hate to love, so will we.
Not giving up on the journey is the hard part.
If we pray always, as Jesus says in the gospel,
it is so we don’t lose heart, so that we don’t give in to hate.
I am firmly convinced that it does us no good to pray that other people change, it is only possible to be insistent that we change.