20th February

My appetite has been slowly recovering. However in the afternoon my stomach turned and I threw up lunch. So much for Maureen’s hard work of making beef broth from scratch! I skipped dinner and just had a mug of ‘goody’ to finish the day.

Today’s gospel in the next excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:43-48):

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike.

‘For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not?

‘You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

It is striking to note that to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect is to love our enemies. How remote this has been from our Christian consciousness over the centuries.

My mentor in Christian Non-violence Fr Emmanuel McCarthy has written a Stations of the Cross on this theme. It can be found online at www.tiny.cc/SC20-02-16. Here is the first station.

  • Jesus is Condemned to Death by Pilatestat1
  • We adore you O Christ and we praise you.
  • Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

How many others have heard the state bureaucrat say,

“We cannot tolerate you. We cannot help you. The world will be a better place without you. You must die.” What goes through the mind of the victim when he or she hears, “You are to be executed!” Over the centuries many who have claimed to be followers of Jesus have stood with the historical “community of executioners”—kings, presidents, governors, judges, soldiers, police, wardens, hang-men. Jesus himself stood with the historical “community of the executed.” He did not stand with those who say, “You must die.” He stood alongside those who are told, “You must die.” Capital punishment is not what Jesus taught. It is what he suffered.

But, Pilate washes his hands and says, “I am not responsible.” The scientist who makes a part of the instrument that when discharged sends hundreds or thousands to a fiery death says, “I am not responsible.” Christians in the Third World are beaten into oppression, while Christians in the First World live off the fruits of that oppression and say, “I am not responsible.” The affluent Christian who spends thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours a year on sports, alcohol, fashion, drugs and entertainment says to the billions of people caught in the unrelieved miseries of poverty, hunger, disease and injustice, “I am not responsible.” More than Pilate have washed their hands as the suffering Christ was condemned to death.