“You have heard that it was said. ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt 5:43-44
Daily I am reminded that war, persecution, and violence are a part of the fabric of our human existence. Every generation of men and women in my family have know of, experienced, or been affected by war. The next generations, here I think of my son who leads a NATO team on deployment of landmine detectors, my grandchild and great grandchildren know and will know of war.
Prophets throughout the ages have called for justice and the end of war. Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself.”
Micah 4:3-4 prophecies that God shall judge between the peoples and arbitrate between the nations and “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees and no one shall make them afraid.”
The words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer come to mind, “The love for our enemies takes us along the way of the cross and into fellowship with the Crucified. The more we are driven along this road, the more certain is the victory of love over the enemy's hatred. For then it is not the disciple's own love, but the love of Jesus Christ alone, who for the sake of his enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as he hung there.”
As Remembrance Day approaches we remember there are no simple answers for peace and justice. And so we stop our business to remember those who have given their lives for the good of others. We remember the words of Jesus, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13
For a follower of Jesus, “Love your Neighbour means ‘Love all people’.
Prayer for forgiveness:
Holy One, when our lives are comfortable and we live in relative safety, it can be all too easy to forget that what we enjoy today has come at a great cost. For some, the price was their last breath. For others, it was wounds to body, mind, or spirit. Our inability to resolve conflicts through peaceable means has caused harm beyond measure.
Forgive us for using violence as a way to resolve our differences.
On days like this, we remember those who defend our freedoms and we say “Lest we forget.” Yet, too often we forget that the wounds to mind and spirit can last a lifetime.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but we have often focused on what divides us rather than on what can bring us together.
Forgive us for our reluctance to do the hard work of peacemaking.
For all these things, and for those which we name before you now in the silence of our hearts, forgive us…