“Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!”* and he kissed him. Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” So says Jesus in Matthew 26:49.
In John 14:27 Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Yes, I understand the need and the right to self-defense, but honestly, I do not totally understand it. Jesus was pretty much, table-turning not withstanding, the original passive resistance protester. He did not raise a finger against anyone, other than those tables.
Whether it is the once-petty-now-out-of-control political divisions that are everywhere in the US, the crisis war between Israel and Hamas, the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, allegedly by rebel forces in Eastern Ukraine, and so much more, the world seems to be a mess.
Compare this to situations you may find in your own life… family situations, work situations, and relationships with others. I find myself caught up these days in some very strong feelings about someone that I have not seen in years. A more noble me might not tell you that I feel some terribly petty anger and resentment, but I’m not that noble. In fact, I am painfully aware of the lack of reconciliation with someone I am likely to never see again. Yet, if I am honest, and I will be, I have been nourishing some imaginary conversations with said person. Well, more like imaginary Facebook messages, which would be the only way that we could communicate.
What the hell is up with that? And yes, I did say hell, because that is what this feels like. And yes, I am aware that I do not want to feel this way… but that I do.
This all came to a head when I saw the final episode (spoiler alert) of “Orange is the New Black.” I know, it hardly seems to be good Catholic viewing, but you give me something, no matter how base, and I will find the grace, I promise you.
In this last episode, we see character ‘Red’ Reznikov, played by Kate Mulgrew, flattened and in a hospital bed at the prison. Someone attacked her from behind, viciously attacked her. She is plotting her revenge towards the person whom she believes responsible for her cracked eye-socket and bruised face. In the next bed, Sister Jane Ingalls, played by Beth Folwer, tries to offer some perspective on this never ending cycle of violence. It is all pretty interesting, and I recommend the series, but it is not for the faint of heart, and full of a lot of lurid sex and bad language, so you have been warned. There’s grace “Orange” too, I assure you. After all, it helped spawn this post.
At some point we have to put down our swords. What will it take? I can wax philosophically about rebel forces in Ukraine, about Israel and Hamas, and about Red and her issues with revenge, what about me? Here I am stirring the pot of 45 year old wounds, wounds that need me to let go of in order to heal. Instead, I pick at the wounds, and they get infected with my vitriol.
For the record, I rarely think of evil and imagine sex. That’s too easy. Evil comes in many forms, typically the banal, as someone way smarter than me once said. Evil is at its worst, if you ask me, in the form of division and revenge.
And today, these things weigh heavily on my mind – both personally and globally. Today i offer no answers, but I am pretty stuck on the question of what makes us want to kill one another.
What does make us want to kill one another? And why? I’m always stuck on this – if I triumph, where does that leave you? I’m pretty certain that evil has to be triumphed over, but how? It is hard to recommend passivity when I consider Hitler, but then I come right back to Jesus. And still, I have no answer other than living my own peace. Which clearly, I am not so good at.
What about you?
I’m there with you, Fran…
Pingback: Peace | A Seat At The Table
Life is complex – there are no easy answers but we need to do our part to bring peace, no matter how insignificant we feel that our part may be. Thanks for this post as it especially resonates with me after spending the past two weeks in Israel.
But, Jesus also said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Man will rise against his father. Daughter against her mother …….and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. ” What I think the peace He spoke of was is an inner peace that He gives to His Church, not a worldly peace. Would I physically defend myself or my loved ones if attacked? Absolutely. If we bring Christ into the world through acts of mercy, can we not also count on His strength acting through us to defend against harm?
Emma, I truly struggle with this.
Pingback: How do I respond? | Mags Blackie