Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 148, Song of Solomon 2:8-13; 4:1-4a, 5-7, 9-11, 2 Corinthians 12:11-21, Luke 19:41-48
Let’s consider these words from Jesus which he spoke as, weeping, he approached Jerusalem:
If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground […] because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.
This prediction came to pass about 40 years later when Rome crushed a Jewish rebellion and burned the temple. Interesting history, but history and prophecy also usually having something to say to us in the present if we really listen.
How are we failing to recognize “the things that make for peace?” Despite admonitions from Jesus to turn the other cheek and do good to those who persecute us, we remain adept at rationalizing violence, war, and revenge (masquerading as justice). Jesus said love your enemies and hate your family. When we decide which of his teachings were hyperbole and which he meant us to put into literal action, why don’t these ever seem to be the latter? The things that make for peace aren’t about correcting or controlling outside factors, but about making the personal sacrifices necessary for peace. If someone decides that means going off to war we write patriotic songs about it, but if another decides it means refusing to go to war (and risking imprisonment) we toss out slurs like coward and traitor. Following the Prince of Peace may not make us absolute pacifists, but we must face the emotional and physical violence we excuse – even celebrate – in our own lives.
Ignore the things that make for peace long enough, and when we need them they will be hidden from us in a blindness of our own choosing. The world has enough people, Christian and not, justifying why we don’t have to love self-sacrificially as Christ commanded. War and hate thrive regardless of whether we support or participate in them. Peace does not.
Comfort: Peaceful actions are a sign of strength.
Challenge: When you find yourself looking for reasons to justify violence, look just as hard for reasons not to.
Prayer: Prince of Peace, create in me a loving heart and thoughtful mind. Amen.
Discussion: When do you think violence is justified? How does that fit with your understand of Jesus’s teachings?
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