For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. –John 13:15

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. –John 13:34

 

Today is a hard day for me. Last year at this time, I remember calling Bishop Greg on the phone and telling him that the Capitol of the United States of America was being overrun by people who were demanding that the election be overthrown. They were climbing walls, breaking windows, beating police officers, trying to find law makers to harm them and some even said they would kill them; even the Vice President of the United States’ life was being threatened by a mob that had already built a gallows for the possibility. I was horrified.

What has been horrifying since has been the claim that somehow we had a right to insist on this method of resolution to a wrong that we had endured.  Even people very close to me have indicated that they believe that they have a right to use violence in their speech to public officials, or to use a gun on their hip to intimidate public officials into doing what they want done. Friends of mine in government and election management are afraid to tell people, who are in front of them with a gun on their hip at the store, that the election was not a fraud in their county. Some have even invoked that they had a right to use these methods because they are doing the will of God.

No, friends. No, these are not the methods that Christians ought to use to do the will of God. Our citizenship is not on this earth. It is in heaven. Jesus Christ is our King and he has told us through St. Paul in Romans 13 that we ought to be subject to the governing authorities. This was written at a time when Christians were being persecuted: thrown into the ring at the Coliseum to be torn apart by lions.

The most effective means of changing the world, be it the Civil Rights movement in America, the workers movements in India, the overturning of Apartheid in South Africa, has been, in fact, not to take up arms and demand our rights. The most effective means to overturn injustice and brutality is to follow the example of Jesus and die for the cause.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could have called down angels to fight the battle to overcome evil. He would have probably gained many followers immediately if he had allowed for the cutting off of ears. Yet, his cause was right and moral. He was fighting for the soul of the world. The most effective means was to allow himself to be accused unfairly, beaten in custody, charged wrongly, convicted of a capital crime which he did not commit, beaten again in custody, spit on, mocked, given a crown of thorns, forced to carry his own instrument of death to a garbage heap where he would die, given sour wine with myrrh in another painful mockery, then to die a horrible death where his heart literally exploded in his chest from the trauma of being nailed to the Cross.

What was achieved by his Crucifixion? It was the exposure of the corrupt nature of humanity. It exposed that humans do not use power for the good of all, but the assertion of their own will. Christ’s cause was elevated by his virtue, his self-sacrifice, his love for even those who would Crucify him.  “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not insist upon its own way; it is not irritable and resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

If we are to change anything in this country, if we are to participate in that change, it must be without rancor, violence, irritableness, or resentment. What happened on this day one year ago contained all of these things. The speeches were filled with rancor. The mobs used violence. Since then, the narratives have been written with resentment.  These are simply not the ways of people who follow Jesus Christ.  We conquer with a much more effective weapon. It is a weapon that exposes those human methods. Our weapon is love.

If we are to fight for our cause, we are to fight it with love. We fight it with resolve, but with a kindness that surpasses all understanding. We should fight it with a generosity that includes as many as possible in a good outcome.  We should fight it sacrificing the demand for our rights in favor of the rights of all, especially when the rights we are demanding are the rights of one man who says his own election, not others on the same ballot, was stolen.

It is reasonable to think we could fight the battle of politics by regrouping to make our stand another day. Yet, even at that, how we take our stand either exposes the righteousness of our cause, or exposes our own bankrupt use of power.  Therefore, we, as Christians, have an obligation to be careful to use our most effective weapon in converting others to righteousness. That weapon is love, as attested to by our King Jesus in exhorting us to do as he has done for us. His death is our ensign, our testimony, our exemplar.

Our citizenship is in heaven. Jesus is our king. Our obligation is to love the world, not demand our rights. We ought to behave accordingly.

 

Blessings,
Fr. Mark

 

 

Fr. Mark Kurowski

Fr. Mark Kurowski

Dean