Transform our righteous anger to win the peace … in return, we create freedom for ourselves & safety for our kids
As we watch the tensions grow between Russia and Ukraine these last few weeks, it raises serious questions about the maturity of the world: on the one hand we are “developed” technologically and psychologically; however, socially, we are losing. The phrase that comes to mind is this: “an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.”
Thank God for the example of David in today’s First Reading: who, when offered a chance to kill the King (who is searching for David in order to kill him), refused and showed mercy.
Unfortunately, today, there seems to be a general appetite for destroying anyone found to have made mistakes, especially in Public life. There is a growing trend to judge others, when we don’t get what we want, but we are less able to judge ourselves when we make mistakes.
As someone once said, “in secular life, nothing is forbidden, and nothing is forgiven; in Church life, many things are forbidden, but everything can be forgiven.”
As we reflect on our own failures as individuals, I can clearly see God symbolised by David. And Abishai is like the Devil, urging God to destroy us. But we believe in a God who promotes life. And so our Responsorial Psalm says: “The Lord is Kind and Merciful.”
The challenge given in the Second Reading is to model ourselves on Jesus Christ and not on ordinary men. Christ who came and sacrificed Himself for others.
One of the big challenges for us in life, trying to be good Christians, is the rubbish we hear whispered into our ears, like Abishai was whispering to David. On one level, Abishai spoke the truth. It makes sense, right? But it is short-term thinking. David would not only be killing a single person, but also destroying the importance of a position= Leadership.
Leaders will make mistakes, but let us always respect the position the Leader holds, for it is important for the whole structure of society. Abraham Lincoln (USA Civil War), and Winston Churchill (World War II), stressed the need to “win the peace” now that we’ve “won the war.”
But how can we be concerned about, and promote others, if we carry bitterness/ want revenge?
The only way to “love our enemies” as Jesus puts it, is to stop thinking about our own pain for a while and think about the pain the other person might be carrying. One speaker talked about a young lady causing chaos in her family: the family were busy reacting to her behaviour, while the Spiritual Director was trying to tell them “she has a tooth-ache.”
And we all know, when we have a bad tooth-ache, nothing matters until we get it fixed, because the pain is so bad we can’t think of anything – or anyone – else.
So, first step today, what is your toothache? And how can you fix it? Second step, who is whispering in your ear? The local gossip group and the secular media are a bad combination for anyone trying to create a meaningful and happy life.
One of the good things about going to Church every week, is that it gives us an alternative to balance the rubbish we hear for the other six days of the week. We might not always like what we hear, eg. “love your enemies!”, but it helps us keep a healthier perspective in our lives.
The final part of the Gospel is how we stop the world destroying itself by becoming compassionate: and it starts with our own families. One of the big challenges in Society today is the reduced size of families (only 1 or 2 children). Instead of one person being upset in a large family in the old days, today one person can cause the whole family to be divided in two.
Where, before, siblings and parents could work together to bring about healing and change, it is now more difficult. This only emphasises the importance of being involved in local community life to help create indirect wisdom for healing and pressure for change. Africans do this very well, because the whole Village guides the children… but it’s reducing now.
I’m not sure if Russia expected the European and other countries to defend Ukraine so vigorously, but the “community” pressure appears to be effective so far. We pray the Russian fears can be addressed by other measures.
“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” – we all make mistakes.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves;” – we all make mistakes.
“Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves;” – we all make mistakes.
“Grant pardon, and you will be pardoned.” – we all make mistakes.
“Give, and there will be gifts for you…” – generosity overcomes many of our mistakes.
I wish you well in our battles to “win the peace” and discover new freedom in our lives.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI