It sounded on my radio this morning as though the world was repeating to its leaders the lessons it learned at its mothers’ knee: Two wrongs don’t make a right. NPR reported that Angela Merkel was likely to be wary of joining military action against Syria, since she is facing an election in a Germany that has little stomach for a new war; and David Cameron has retreated from a once bitten, twice shy, post-Iraq Parliament in order to fight another day. Perhaps the population is reminding its politicians that aggression all too often brings tends to bring its shame paradoxically back to the violator rather than the victim.
The difficulty for these democratic doves, though, is letting the people of Syria know that they are not alone, that the rejection of revenge or vengeance violence, that the distaste for further death is not because their loved ones go unmourned or unmissed; quite the opposite. In fact, such inaction can only be justified by a fierce love for peace and for the people who long for it.
In the Gospel of Luke, James and John are eager to emulate Elijah in calling down fire on the people of Samaria who reject them. Jesus rebukes their zeal for revenge; it is not their task to fight Elijah’s forgotten battles; and they are not to take lightly the lives of those whom God loves, whose lives are precious in the sight of God. Theirs may be in some ways a harder road to follow, yet its yoke is easier, unburdened by the blood, grief and tears of the opposition.
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