“Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’ ” Matt. 26:51-52
Yesterday, there was an attempted coup to stop the counting of legal and properly certified electoral college votes for President and Vice President of the United States. I was terribly saddened and angered by the desecration of the People’s House, the Capitol Building of the United States. What was even more angering to me was that people were holding up Bibles and Rosaries in pride and defiance as if the taking up of the sword to impose the will of God on others is what God wants. If it was, then he would have used violence himself.
God is always on our side. We are not always on God’s side. In fact, the idea of taking up violence pro-actively is against what we believe. Our trust is not in the sword. Our trust is in Jesus Christ and God alone. It is Jesus Christ who set the precedent to not fight fire with fire. In fact, fighting fire with fire too often begets a holocaust, a conflagration that no one can put out.
What Jesus did was expose the violent ways of humans and contrast them to the ways of peace that the King of kings and Lord of lords would use. God would not use death and destruction to save the world. He would show that violence, death, and destruction do not save. What saves is the defeat of violence, death, and destruction. What saves is the renewal of minds and hearts through evangelism.
If we want the United States to be a “Christian nation,” that will not happen from the top down. It must happen by the winning of souls for Jesus Christ through love, compassion, and modeling of what it means to be Christians. It will happen by our own conversion within and the rejection of the following of any one man or woman on this earth. We follow the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit alone. He alone is our salvation. Ours is not to convince others or to coerce others into our way of life. Ours is to invite others to follow Jesus Christ. If we do not like what we see, then it means we have not invited enough people to Church, to know Jesus Christ.
We, also, cannot support speech that promotes violence. Jesus, above, directly used his speech to speak out against violence in the face of a mob who would ultimately kill him. Violence, as St. Augustine pointed out, must be the last resort and only for defensive purposes. Those who encourage violence as a means of getting their way are not on God’s side.
Some may ask why this incident is different from others. It is because it struck at the core of our democracy. Christianity is more compatible with democracy, with a person choosing his/her own destiny. Democracy requires a commitment to peace. Christianity requires a commitment to peace, mercy, and forgiveness. We cannot support governmental systems that do not allow for a human being to determine his/her own future. Self-determination is at the core of being fully human in the image and likeness of God.
The violence at the Capitol yesterday was wrong. Violence in the name of Jesus Christ is unfathomably wrong.
Fr. Mark Kurowski, Dean