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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Confronting Violence

"As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes." Lk 19: 41-42

It is not unreasonable to think, if Jesus lived among us today, that he would be weeping at our inability to build a world where justice leads to a lasting peace. Almost everyday we hear about a car bombing in Baghdad, children being stolen in Nigeria or a school shooting someplace in the United States, and while it is reasonable enough to believe that some of the violence we encounter is random and unavoidable, too much of it is a product of an unjust world.

What are people who are hungry or violated daily by gangs or terrorists supposed to do? Unable after a while to maintain their composure and seek paths to conversation and reconciliation, they lash out defensively and viciously hoping their rage will force their enemies to retreat. Unfortunately, while their response might be effective for a while, violence inevitably leads to more violence and the endless cycle of savagery continues.

Christians, however, cannot give in or give up. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who gave his life in a Nazi concentration for the sake of the Gospel calls this costly grace. 
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Opposing violence might cost us our lives, but if it helps others to know the Christ who is our peace and who demands we always work for the good of all, we can be sure of the reward of eternal life.

Today, weep with Christ at the violence we confront in the world, and let our tears be our prayer.

Who do you most admire for confronting violence with the peace of Christ?

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