I returned yesterday evening after having spent 2 enjoyable days in Fethard, Co Tipperary where I ministered for 4 months back in 2014.
Friday is a day when we remember Good Friday and Our Lord’s demonstration of his great love for us. He revealed a key aspect of divine love in praying for his enemies “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is also evident in his embrace of the ‘Good Thief’ – “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Given his New Commandment “Love one another as I have loved you” we are called to practice that same love, even love of enemies, in our Christian living.
I was pleasantly surprised that a related letter of mine to the Irish Catholic was printed in the last edition.
Dear Editor; When I read the page 1 banner of the last Irish Catholic (5th May) ‘Just War
Theory – Pacifism only works when everyone adopts it’, I said to myself “Here we go again!” That has the same faith logic as ‘Thou shall not steal / commit adultery’ only works when everyone adopts the same standard!
In the early Church Jesus’ teachings on non-violence were not contested: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” [Matt 5:43-46] This understanding of the gospel was well summarised by the leading Christian writer Tertullian (+220AD): “When Christ disarmed Peter in the garden [of Gethsemanae], he disarmed all Christians.”
It was only when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century that Jesus’ divine teachings were modified for such a role.
It was ironic that the accompanying image for the article on page 11 featured a Crusader wielding a sword while carrying a shield with a cross on it. As somebody said once about such a contradiction: The sword is the Cross turned upside down. Let’s keep Jesus’ teachings upright and unmodified!