The truth is we are a violent society – TV, games, political rhetoric, confrontations between friends or family, social media posts, interactions on the highway and in restaurants; sometimes it is an actual call to violence and other times we use it as a metaphor, but even metaphor plants violence in our hearts, minds, and souls. I have even heard violent language from clergy who are supposed to preach the love of Christ and the peace that passes all understanding.
We want to blame one side or another, but if you have been paying attention you know that violent speech and/or actions knows no political party, economic, or religious boundaries. It is in the heart of most humans to some degree – some of us nurture it.
We do so out of fear or frustration; sometimes it is out of our desire to control or to “win.”
Violence is a part of our “fallen” nature. The second sin in Genesis was murder – brother against brother.
Jesus lived in an oppressed and occupied nation and taught his disciples to turn the other cheek, love their enemies, and pray for those who persecute. That does not mean anyone should be a punching bag, but it does mean a different approach than the one we have been taking. We do live in a violent world: again, that is who we are when we do not allow the Spirit of God to rule our lives. The violence in the world should not mean we turn against one another and against the teachings of Jesus.
We are all responsible.
James writes to the Church: be angry, but do not sin. It could also apply to being frustrated but not sinning, be fearful but do not sin, in the face of anger do not sin…
Violent talk gives permission for violent action. Hateful talk gives birth to actions of hate. Most of the time – for all humanity – the real enemy is our broken or wounded soul. This is why Jesus came to heal and restore the soul of humanity.
Christians are meant to counter a violent world with the message of Jesus, the Christ. The violence by which he died is an indication of how far we humans will go to deny that peace that passes all understanding.
We may not be able to stop others from spreading anger, fear, and hatred, but we do not have to participate in it.
For we, the Church, it begins when each of us offers a total surrender to the will and love of God found in Christ Jesus.