Responding to violence…again
When the news story first came across my screen of the deadly shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night, I was struck by the terror of it. “Should I write some sort of reflection?” I wondered to myself. “Are people sick of reading some written reflection in response to violence? Didn’t I just write one? What could possibly be new to say?” My tired, weary thoughts made the need for words and action even more profound. VIOLENCE KEEPS HAPPENING!
Last year at this time, I was preparing for a trip to the Holy Land, a visit to Israel and the West Bank. Aren’t you worried about the violence? People would occasionally ask me. To what am I comparing the violence in the Middle East? Who can judge between a shooter at the Al Aqsa Mosque and one in Las Vegas?
The Apostle Paul’s lament in his Letter to the Romans seems most suited for today. Recalling various verses from the Hebrew texts he ruminates…
What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written:
‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
there is no one who has understanding,
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
there is no one who shows kindness,
there is not even one.’
‘Their throats are opened graves;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of vipers is under their lips.’
‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery are in their paths,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Romans 3:9-18
I believe that we will not find our way until we find ourselves in the Mercy that is God. Discovering ourselves there will give us the strength and direction to find our way forward together. No one is going anywhere. The Violent are within each of us. Our salvation is found together. Jesus’ death on the cross shows us that although grace and mercy and love and forgiveness are free, our salvation is not. Allowing ourselves to be saved is going to cost us something.