Read Matthew 5:38-48
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'” (Matthew 26:52)
Just when Spring has finally sprung, just when warmth and life start to come back to the earth, just as people start to prepare for new hope and new opportunities for living life, a tragedy occurs that reminds us of how fragile and precarious life is. Today, as I was busy amid my day’s worth of work, a notification from the NY Times popped up on my iPhone, telling me that there were two explosions that went off during the Boston Marathon. As it turns out, these explosions were purposefully set off to harm, maim, and kill people. And the mission was accomplished. As of this writing, at least three people were killed, dozens maimed, and an entire nation is in a state of shock and panic.
Even following such tragic events like 9/11, all of the shootings that have happened and other devastating events, we still wonder who in the world would want to hurt innocent people. How can people be so cold, so calculating, and so vicious? Why is it that the human race seems to be hellbent on blowing itself up? How should we respond to these and other acts of terror?
Before we answer those questions, let us think back to the world in which Jesus was born in. Christ was born into a world that is just as harsh as the world in which we live. He was born in a country that was occupied by a cruel and merciless Empire. He was born into a world that scourged and crucified its opponents. He was born into a world that shunned the poor and honored the greedy and powerful. It is into such a world that Jesus was born, and he was bound to experience the cruelty that this world had to offer.
Yet, what was his response? Did he respond out of fear? Did he respond out of hatred? Did he respond based off of his emotions? How did Jesus react with the world around him? What was his response to the cruelty, injustice, and horror that he was faced with everyday of his life? The answer is as simple, and yet as profoundly irritating, as can be. Jesus responded with love.
Many, when hearing this, may think that I am just spewing a Christian cliché. Some may even go as far as to say that Jesus’ teachings work in theory, but not in real-world situations. After all, if we let people get away with murder, they’ll just keep on murdering? How does love solve the world’s problems?
The answer is, it doesn’t. But then again, neither does responding in hatred, violence and fear. There is nothing that we can do to stop people from harming us, should they choose to. And a consequence of living in this broken world is that we run the risk of being caught in the fray of evil. And if we are honest, we sometimes perpetuate evil ourselves.
But we are not called to change the world; rather, we are called to change ourselves. We are called to rise above the fray and to love people, even when they don’t deserve to be loved. We are called to reach out to the starving, the naked, the angry, the disenchanted, the sick, the imprisoned, and all of those who are desperate people caught in desperate times. We are called to be the very presence of God in the lives of those who are desperately in need of the presence of God. In the end we have a choice, to react in fear or to react in love, to give in to the reaction the world is seeking after, or to embrace the reaction God desires of us. The choice is yours.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Love is only a dream if you refuse to make it a reality.
Lord, we lay our fears down at the foot of the cross and pick up your love and your grace. Help us in this endeavor. Amen.