Once again we were awakened to the news of more lives taken in a mass shooting. More brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters died due to hatred and the idea that someone can appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner.
Jesus called Peacemakers blessed and asked us to pray for our enemy, to love our enemy. This love does not mean passivity. Love is active.
What kind of action does love look like at times like these? I struggle with that and am not fully sure I have much of an answer. We do not ignore the violence, the hatred, the misinformation, the bigotry of others. We do not stay silent in the face of violence. But in the midst of this how do we love? Love all, even those we fear, those who wish us harm, those who are not like us?
I know what love looks like in standing up for the victims, their family, and friends. If we are all made in the image of God then we must live that way with every person. I can be Jesus to the victims. But how am I to be Jesus to those who hate; those who act out that hate in so many different forms of violence?
Again, I struggle for an answer and sense that I am on shaky ground. I know what self-preservation asks of me. I know what my fear wants me to do. I know what my confusion, my anger, my frustration wants me to do. What does Jesus want me to do? What does my faith want me to do? Which aspects of my humanity will I listen to? Which aspects will guide my hand?
As a person of faith I know what the answer should be. I should be Jesus. Paul talks about putting on the mind of Christ. This is difficult at times like this. As a person of faith in the Jesus who loved all and gave himself for all, I want to see a way through… Is there a way through? The way has to begin with prayer. The way has to begin in me and how I speak and how I love and how I seek to see God and bring God into this world.
I must not let my fear decide my reaction. I must not let hate decide my action (this is what the violent ones do). I must let my love of Jesus guide me.
What I know is we cannot fight hate with hate, violence will not change the world for the better. Finger pointing and arguing amongst ourselves will get us nowhere. There is a way through this that does not conflict with God’s desire for us all.
This does not mean those who act out violently should not be held accountable. They must. They will. This does not mean surrendering the earth to the violent ones, the haters, and the fearful ones. Is Jesus Lord or not?
I hope that in this darkness God will help me, and us all, be a little bit of light. A small word of faith in a world so lacking in faith. Instead of looking for Jesus in this, I believe my baptismal vows remind me that we are to be Jesus in this.